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Extinction Rebellion shifts focus to aiding battle against coronavirus

Extinction Rebellion will continue to battle for life, addressing the more immediate threat of the coronavirus pandemic as public campaigns are suspended. Picture: Tom Dorrington
Extinction Rebellion will continue to battle for life, addressing the more immediate threat of the coronavirus pandemic as public campaigns are suspended. Picture: Tom Dorrington

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, XR Cambridge and XR Youth Cambridge have postponed all in-person protests and gatherings until further notice, and has switched its focus to supporting local groups assisting communities in healthcare, wellbeing and the delivery of essential supplies.

The climate change activist group says it is now committed to supporting those on the front line of the emergency, as infection rates continue to rise.

“Public actions, while they have hugely increased awareness of the climate emergency, risk spreading the new coronavirus further, unfairly affecting those who are already vulnerable,” said a spokesperson for the organisation. “Above all, Extinction Rebellion is a movement that fights for life and a safer, fairer world; we act today in solidarity with everyone. We watch the unfolding crisis with sadness and dismay: many of us fear for our loved ones, and our hearts go out to those already facing the terrifying consequences. Every life matters, every person has value. We exist to help all.”

The decentralised group is leaving it to individual members as to which aid organisations they get involved in, but has declared public support for some.

“During this time, we are using our skills in different ways, including volunteering with refugee charities such as the Refugee Community Kitchen; many of us have chosen to work with mutual aid organisations to help those in need, or take part in other community action such as donating blood. There are many for whom self-isolation is a daunting and dangerous ordeal, many who are immuno-compromised yet still need to collect food and medication, and many whose mental health means they need routine and human contact to get by. We recognise that we have the skills and resources that are needed to support these people. Working with other local activist groups, we are helping to create a stronger, more resilient community that can aid both logistically and emotionally with the trials of this crisis and other crises to come. We urge anyone in need to approach a mutual aid organisation: the ‘Cambridgeshire Coronavirus Mutual Aid’ Facebook page has collated a list of local groups providing such support.”


Extinction Rebellion Cambridge adds that “the Covid-19 pandemic is a wake-up call to all of us that business as usual is no longer keeping us safe or happy”.

It also suggests that the response - never being ahead of events - mirrors governmental inertia on climate change.

“We are shifting our focus to those directly in need because it is the right thing to do, but we will not stop holding our government to account for casualising this and every other crisis - for always being reactive and never proactive. Meanwhile, we will look for new ways to challenge poor government climate policy through remote, online actions. This emergency is only different from the climate emergency in that it will predominantly affect older people rather than younger people; the crises are the same in that the poor and vulnerable will still bear the brunt of our leaders’ inaction to prevent them.

“Enough is enough. Let this crisis be the last whose warning signs were ignored, the last where scientists and data were dismissed or suppressed in favour of the status quo. We cannot afford to carry on as we are used to while taking away other people’s right to do the same. The global system is broken and will be the end of us if we do not stop it. We act now to save life, and we will do so until everyone’s existence, present and future, is respected.”

An NHS Blood and Transplant spokesperson urged donors “to keep donating as normal in Cambridgeshire”.

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