Largest Civil Disobedience Campaign by Scientists in History: Over 1,000 Scientists Taking Action Across the Globe
Thursday, 7th of April, 2022 –Worldwide– On April 6th, over 1,000 Scientist Rebellion activists in more than 25 countries took disruptive, non-violent actions. They engaged in civil disobedience targeting governmental, scientific, and corporate institutions, many risking arrest in order to highlight the urgency and injustice of the climate and ecological crisis.
Actions have taken place in Italy (Rome, Turin, Venice), Denmark (Copenhagen), Spain (Madrid), the UK (London), Germany (Berlin), the Netherlands (The Hague), Portugal (Lisbon), Switzerland (Bern), Rwanda (Muanga), Sierra Leone, Colombia (Bogotá), Panamá, Ecuador (Quito), the USA (Washington DC, Los Angeles, Portland, New York), and Malawi (Lilongwe).
Highlights of global actions:
- In Madrid, 58 of the roughly 80 people who took direct action were identified, with 20 proposed for sanction, after throwing fake blood on the facade of the National Congress in Spain and staging a peaceful sit-down protest.
- In Copenhagen, 40 people blocked the street in front of the Climate Ministry, half of them scientists, holding posters of scientific papers and reading the IPCC report. 10 scientists were detained temporarily, 2 were fined, and 2 other scientists were arrested.
- In Venice, Turin, and Rome, the premises of ENI (the largest Italian energy company) were occupied for 10 hours, with over 10 scientists locked on and others pasting papers and performing a tragicomedy depicting human extinction after ignoring scientists’ advice. A workers’ entrance remained blocked for an hour. The activists demanded a public meeting with the ENI CEO on ENI’s decarbonisation strategy. At the end of the day, the meeting was denied. The activists left, but the campaign will carry on.
- In Panamá, 10 scientists and 10 non-scientists protested at the US, German, and UK embassies, calling for a climate revolution, an end to fossil fuels, and major financial support for the energy transition in the Global South. 500-1000 high school students participated in climate marches throughout the country, and climate talks took place at schools.
- In Portland, Oregon (USA), 100 people participated in an action that targeted the Portland Business Alliance (PBA) headquarters and the City Council. The PBA has blocked climate action by the City Council, who have declared a climate emergency but have not acted on it. The city has the leverage to demand that Portland’s power utility switches from dirty coal to renewables instead of fossil gas, and the PBA needs to stop blocking action.
- In The Netherlands, scientists blocked an entrance to the Hague Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, calling for emergency action. They spoke about the climate emergency and read from the IPCC report; 7 were arrested. Additionally, over 50 scientists marched through the Hague ahead of the action, giving speeches.
- In Switzerland, 18 scientists marched to the Federal Square in Bern with banners and pasted climate science articles on the walls of the Federal Palace. The action was met with strong police control. All scientists were detained for an hour, including those who just held a banner and were banned from the capital for a day.
- In Quito, Ecuador, a group of young scientists demanded that the Ministry of Environment stop their inconsistency and either step down from leading an international event ostensibly working towards a prosperous and healthy world or give up trying to double the level of oil exploitation in the country.
- Scientists locked onto Chase Bank's entrance in Los Angeles to protest their fossil fuel financing. This led to the police shutting down access to the building and the entire street, with dozens of police officers in riot gear arriving to arrest fewer than ten scientists.
- In Lisbon, Portugal, three scientists displayed Scientist Rebellion posters outside the Environment and the Economy Ministries. The protest, picked up by local and social media, was peaceful and sowed the seeds of a movement in Portugal.
- In Sierra Leone, an event with several stakeholders generated engagement and calls for climate action to policymakers. During the event, participants asked what real steps developed countries are actually taking to address the emergency.
- In Lilongwe, Malawi, scientists held a teach-in at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources on the roles of policymakers in the IPCC report and the role of scientists in a climate emergency.
- In Rwanda, scientists took to the streets, demanding emergency action. They also facilitated a teach-in in Muhanga City, where young people shared real-life stories of how the climate crisis already affected their communities and homes. Participants learned about the IPCC report and basic climate science; the lies, suffering, and injustice that severely harm people in the Global South; and how young people can be part of the solution.
Talks, teaching, outreach, and educational disobedience took place in countries including Argentina, Colombia, and Nigeria, involving hundreds of scientists and students. In Colombia, seven talks were given, four online and three in person, to a total of +200 people (including both academics and the broader public) about the impact of climate breakdown in the Global South and the need to decolonize activism.
These actions followed the release of the third part of the 6th IPCC report, which Scientist Rebellion leaked an early version of last August. As expected, governments worldwide watered down the final report in its calls for action and blamed those most responsible for the crisis. However, in the IPCC press conference, UN Secretary-General António Guterres reminded the global community of what is at stake: “This report is a litany of broken climate promises. We are on a fast track to climate disaster. We are in a climate emergency.”
The scientists act under the slogan “1.5°C is dead, climate revolution now!”
A US climate change scientist, Dr. Rose Abramoff, warned, "We have not made the necessary changes to limit warming to 1.5°C, rendering this goal impossible. We need to both understand the consequences of our inaction as well as limit fossil fuel emissions as much and as quickly as possible. As scientists, we tend to be risk-averse. We don’t want to risk our jobs, reputations, and time. But it is no longer sufficient to do our research and expect others to read our publications and understand the severity and urgency of the climate crisis. On the 6th of April, together with hundreds of others around the globe, I took action to urge governments and society to stop ignoring the collective findings of decades of research. Let’s make this crisis impossible to ignore.”
Scientist Rebellion cofounder Mike Lynch-White, former Theoretical Physics Ph.D. candidate turned full-time climate activist, explains scientists’ need for action this way: “Imagine two people are sitting in a house. One turns to the other and calmly states that the house is on fire and the roof is about to collapse and kill them both before returning to their morning newspaper. It would be completely unreasonable for the other person to believe the threat, no matter how real it is.”
Dr. Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist who recently joined the group and got arrested, says: "We need a billion climate activists. I encourage everyone to consider where we're heading as a species and to engage in civil disobedience and other actions. The time is now. We've waited far too long. Mobilize, mobilize, and mobilize. Mobilize before we lose everything."
Scientist Rebellion is in the streets between April 4th and 9th, acting like our house is on fire–because it is.
Scientist Rebellion is a growing climate activist group with 1000+ scientists and academics across 32 countries. Members range from science students and professors to IPCC contributors and leading climate-related scientists. Through disruptive nonviolent action, Scientist Rebellion demands emergency decarbonization via economic degrowth. During acts of civil resistance, members wear lab coats, and volunteers organize the vast majority of the campaign activity. The Climate Emergency Fund supports Scientist Rebellion's recruitment, training, capacity-building, and educational efforts.
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