XR co-founder denies headline-grabbing stunts by groups like Just Stop Oil pushed them into resuming direct action

19 April 2023, 20:14 | Updated: 19 April 2023, 20:21

A co-founder of Extinction Rebellion has denied that the group has been forced to resume direct action because stunts by groups like Just Stop Oil have been getting all the headlines.
A co-founder of Extinction Rebellion has denied that the group has been forced to resume direct action because stunts by groups like Just Stop Oil have been getting all the headlines. Picture: Alamy / LBC

By Chris Samuel

A co-founder of Extinction Rebellion has denied that the group has been forced to resume direct action because stunts by groups like Just Stop Oil have been getting all the headlines.

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Appearing on Tonight with Andrew Marr, Clare Farrell said XR announced a change of approach at the start of the year as there were other groups "flying the flag for radical direct action".

The group said it was shifting away from tactics such as protesters gluing themselves to public places, and smashing windows, in 2023.

In a January 1 statement titled "We quit", it spelled out a new year resolution to "prioritise attendance over arrest and relationships over roadblocks", and said that "constantly evolving tactics is a necessary approach".

"In a time when speaking out and taking action are criminalised, building collective power, strengthening in number and thriving through bridge-building is a radical act," the group at the time.

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"XR is committed to including everyone in this work and leaving no one behind, because everyone has a role to play.

"This year, we prioritise attendance over arrest and relationships over roadblocks, as we stand together and become impossible to ignore."

However, this approach appears to have been abandoned as the group threatened to intensify its activities in a protest during the London Marathon weekend.

XR co-founder Clare Farrell
XR co-founder Clare Farrell. Picture: LBC

XR and dozens of other environmental groups are planning to flood central London as the Marathon takes place in the capital, and has warned that it will "have no choice" but to call on those attending to "step up action" unless the government responds to two demands by 5pm on Monday, April 24.

Its demands are that ministers axe all licenses, funding and approval for new oil and gas projects, and the government forms "emergency citizens assemblies" to fight the environmental crisis.

Asked by Andrew whether XR had been pushed into resuming action because Just Stop Oil and other groups have grabbed the headlines with high profile stunts in recent weeks, Ms Farrell said: "Well, no I don't think so.

"The reason that we've taken this approach at the beginning of the year is because there is a bigger ecosystem of movements, it is because of people like Just Stop Oil, people like Insulate Britain.

Extinction Rebellion are planning to flood Westminster across the coming weekend.
Extinction Rebellion are planning to flood Westminster across the coming weekend. Picture: Getty

"There's more in the landscape that are flying the flag for radical direct action, and we support them, and we're very grateful for them being part of the mix.

"But what we recognise with XR is we've got a broader, older organisation, that we could actually use networks and our relationships to build a bigger broader movement."

The activist said given predictions that civilisation will collapse before the end of this century due to climate change, it's important the group asks '"why have we not got everyone on the streets with us?'"

It comes amid a wave of protests from other climate and animal welfare groups that have gained national attention.

Animal Rising protesters being led away by police, after activists tried to enter the track at the Grand National.
Animal Rising protesters being led away by police, after activists tried to enter the track at the Grand National. Picture: Alamy

Last weekend, activists from the group Animal Rising - and offshoot of Extinction Rebellion - tried to halt the Aintree race at the weekend but their efforts were thwarted by police, security and fans of the race.

The race was delayed by 15 minutes and furious trainers blamed the chaos on the death of a horse. Nearly 120 people were arrested and bailed.

Clare Farrell appearing on Tonight with Andrew Marr
Clare Farrell appearing on Tonight with Andrew Marr. Picture: LBC

Then on Monday, a Just Stop Oil protester climbed onto a snooker table during the World Championship and threw an orange substance over himself to jeers from onlookers.

Security moved into to grab him off the table, while at the same time a female protester wearing a similar shirt leapt from the crowd and tried to get on a separate match.

However, staff managed to grab her and stop her from getting on the table.

Two people were arrested.

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