By now, most people have heard of the radical climate-justice movement ‘Extinction Rebellion’ – whether this be through personal involvement in non-violent actions or via news stories and word of mouth. What many people haven’t heard of, however, is XR’s sister group, Animal Rebellion.
While Extinction Rebellion was founded as a standalone climate justice movement by Roger Hallam to involve everyday civilians in actions of mass civil disobedience, Animal Rebellion piggybacks the existing model set out by XR, reinforcing the organisation’s three demands upon the government: to tell the truth about the state of the climate crisis, to act now (to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025) and to establish and be led by a citizens assembly. In addition to these demands, Animal Rebellion insists that in order for the environmental crisis to be halted, animal agriculture must be held to account.
As Animal Rebellion declare on their official website, ‘Animal Rebellion’s position is that for [XR’s three demands] to be met, they must include telling the truth about the animal farming and fishing industries being leading contributors to the climate emergency; that taking action must include ending these industries and transitioning to a plant-based food system.’ Animal agriculture is the number one contributor to environmental land and water degradation and as Animal Rebellion argue, there is consequently no way to create a sustainable, socially just food system that involves animal farming.
While Extinction Rebellion goes general, holding the government and big businesses to account for not policing the actions of society’s worst polluters, Animal Rebellion is clear in its agenda, focusing directly on those industries themselves: Animal Rebellion cuts straight to the nation’s sore spot, honing in on the specifics of high-emission industries and the role of livestock in pushing CO2 and methane levels to an unsustainable high. While Extinction Rebellion acknowledges the role of the meat and dairy industries in accelerating climate change – many of those involved in October and April Rebellions opted for a vegan diet – it chooses not to force the point so long as broad legislative change is the priority.
Is this direct approach more effective in combatting climate change? It’s hard to say. Were the operations of animal agriculture to cease, society would still be left with a host of other dangerous and polluting industries- gas and oil, plastics and nuclear power- which necessitate the all-encompassing approach favoured by Extinction Rebellion.
System change is necessary- and yes, animal agriculture is responsible for an overwhelming proportion of global emissions. The key takeaway here is that the campaign against climate breakdown and the argument against animal agriculture are not mutually exclusive. Both have legitimate end goals, and both are in agreement regarding the necessity of inciting government action. In their current collaboration as part of the October London Rebellion, Extinction Rebellion and its sister group have demonstrated the great power of teamwork in simultaneously occupying sites such as Trafalgar Square and Smithfields meat market: lets hope their efforts continue in a similar vein to advocate for climate justice and justice for animals, side by side.