Non-violent civil disobedience movement, Extinction Rebellion, has launched ‘XR Grandparents’, a group to unite grandparents and older people who are campaigning to safeguard the planet for future generations.
Motivated by fear for their grandchildren’s futures, hundreds of grandparents gathered outside Buckingham Palace on Tuesday afternoon to campaign for the government to take immediate action to tackle climate change.
Despite the Met Police issuing a city-wide ban on Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests on Monday evening, activists have continued to unite as part of the Autumn Rebellion. Family and the importance of coming together is a fundamental part of XR’s ethos – ‘believing that there is no Them and Us, only all of us together, Extinction Rebellion seeks alliances wherever they can be found’ – with actions such as the mothers and babies blockade of Google HQ on Tuesday taking place across the capital.
The Grandparents’ group, initiated by Hazel Mason, came about as she met fellow activists throughout the London Actions who also have grandchildren and are concerned about how climate change will affect their families in the coming years.
“There seemed to be so many of us with a lot in common that it made sense to form a group,” said Mason. “A shared feeling among us is that our lifetime has seen the greatest increase in CO2 emissions, and the greatest surge towards consumerism and a capitalism of continual growth. An illusion that most of us have unwittingly bought into.”
“We feel that it’s our duty to give back to the planet what we have taken, so that it will still be there, not only for own grandchildren, but for children worldwide who are already suffering, and will be the first to suffer as things get worse.”
"Collectively we have a lot to give. We have time, experience from all walks of life, diverse skills and maybe even a little wisdom.”
With topics like Brexit taking up much of the headlines, generational divides can seem wide and difficult to bridge, but in a heartwarming show of connectivity, this group highlights how many older people truly care about the younger generation and are willing to take responsibility to do all they can to try and make things better in such fragile times.
Mason went on to say: “We have a unique opportunity to take our place in history, and a passion and determination to ensure that there is a history. Collectively we have a lot to give. We have time, experience from all walks of life, diverse skills and maybe even a little wisdom.”
“So many younger people, who need to consider their jobs, their future careers, their families are not well placed to risk arrest, and yet they do it. We have far less to lose”
Actions and protests continue across London this week, instigating over 1,700 arrests since the Autumn Rebellion began on 7 October, gathering more and more supporters who realise drastic measures must be taken. Arrests over the past couple of days include Green Party co-leader, Jonathan Bartley, environmentalist and journalist George Monbiot, and Green MEP Ellie Chowns.
Commenting on the prospect of legal action, Mason said: “All other avenues: lobbying, marching, campaigning, legal challenges, have been tried and to no effect. If the government cannot accept its duty of care, then we, as senior citizens are prepared to take on that mantle. And we will do whatever it takes. If we have to be arrested in order to get our voice heard, then we will do it willingly.”
XR Grandparents is currently a national group but it hopes to connect with other grandparents around the world, “to support each other in our shared grief for an unimaginable future, in the knowledge that we will work together to avoid that future.”