Extinction Rebellion Is Planning A Huge 'Action' Outside Parliament

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 15 months ago

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Last Updated 21 April 2023

Extinction Rebellion Is Planning A Huge 'Action' Outside Parliament
A pink banner saying '21 April Unit To Survive' hanging from Westminster Bridge, with people with flags and placards walking across the bridge, and the Houses of Parliament visible in the background.
Image: Extinction Rebellion

Environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion (XR) is organising a huge, ongoing 'action' outside the Houses of Parliament later this spring.

'The Big One', as it's being dubbed, is scheduled to begin on 21 April 2023, and it's hoped that at least 100,000 people will take part — the number of signatures needed on a petition to get it raised in Parliament. There's no petition involved here (Extinction Rebellion claims that "petitions have never worked for issues around the Climate & Biodiversity crises") but it's thought that having that number of people visible outside Parliament will put pressure on MPs.

People walking across Westminster Bridge holding Extinction Rebellion flags
Image: William Joshua Templeton/Extinction Rebellion

On 11 January, the 100-day countdown to the event began, with the group unveiling banners on major landmarks across the UK in a bid to build momentum. Extinction Rebellion has a huge marketing campaign planned, so expect to hear plenty more about The Big One in coming weeks, including the release of a full strategy document.

It's part of a change in tactics from the group better-known for its disruptive protests that block major roads and transport networks. XR claims that so many people are now concerned about the environment, they have enough support for peaceful action to be effective. That said, some will argue that XR have realised that the more disruptive action is sometimes alienating public support, and so it's trying a change of tack.

What is 'The Big One'?

People walking across Westminster Bridge towards the Houses of Parliament holding Extinction Rebellion flags
Image: William Joshua Templeton/Extinction Rebellion

The "biggest mobilisation campaign XR has ever undertaken" is how XR describes The Big One, which it is keen to point out is a "nonviolent, direct action", rather than a march, protest or rally. No paint will be thrown, and no glue will be used to stick people to roads or vehicles.

Instead, people will sit peacefully outside Parliament in huge numbers — as we say, XR hopes at least 100,000 — taking up residence day after day from 21 April, in a bid to get the attention of those in power working in Parliament.

What do Extinction Rebellion hope to achieve?

Ultimately, Extinction Rebellion wants to trigger policy change, to end the use of fossil fuels in this country, to get politicians and those in power to take threats to the climate and the environment more seriously, and to move towards a future democracy which is citizen-led, rather than having decisions which affect the many made by the few in power.

It's hoped that by showing just how many members of the public support this, MPs will be pressured into taking action.

How to take part

Want to take part in The Big One, or find out more? You can enter your details on the Extinction Rebellion website to be kept up to date with plans. And maybe clear your schedule for 21 April and the following days. There's also a crowdfunder if you want to support Extinction Rebellion financially — money goes towards advertising and marketing, legal support, and other expenses incurred by the campaign team.