“The way to get change done is to cause a stir”: inside Extinction Rebellion’s latest London protest

NME's Dhruva Balram speaks to the climate change protestors who, taking a stand in central London, hope to provide a wake-up call to world leaders

Kicking off this week (October 7), climate change activists Extinction Rebellion have set up camps across central London, where they plan to remain for 14 days and nights – there’ll be music performances too – to convey their simple message to Westminster: action needs to be taken to reduce our carbon emissions.

Concurrent protests are being held in 60 countries across the world, making this a truly global statement, proving how much progress Extinction Rebellion has made in recent years.

NME’s Dhruva Balram headed down to Trafalgar Square on the first evening of the protest, a rainy Monday night on which activists carried signs emblazoned with slogans such as: “It will be a lonely place without 99% of species.”

One protestor told us: “People have known about it for son long and nothing’s been done, and finally in the last year or so through Extinction Rebellion things have started to make headway with waking people up to what’s actually happening to our planet. We’re facing impending doom because of this problem that no-one wanted to look at before because of election cycles.”

Another insisted that actual on-the-ground action beats social media-led clicktivism any day: “On social media we do speak about it but there’s not a lot of action being taken by the government. There hasn’t been a global emergency declared; I think that’s really important.” And, as one activist put it: “We’re not behaving as if it’s an emergency.”

While some might resent the disruption, “the best way to get change done is to cause a stir – otherwise things won’t change”, we were told.

An Extinction Rebellion protest back in March

Another person added: “The disruption is effective to get people to research into why we need to change our consumer habits. I’m sure people will be annoyed that they can’t get home properly today but they will also reflect on whether they do need a car to get home, for instance.”

And for all the talk of protestors causing disruption – there have been 500 arrests at the London protests so far – an activist explained: “It creates community and that’s really needed in the system right now.”

The rebellion continues. We’ll leave you with words of wisdom from an interviewee: “Extinction Rebellion are often accused of being really radical, asking for crazy things – ‘They’re blocking the roads!’ – when what they’re asking is to keep the temperature as stable as possible. And not very radical.”