It wants greenhouses gases to be reduced to net zero by 2025. To draw attention to its cause, its activists have blocked roads, glued themselves to trains, stripped in the Houses of Parliament and chained themselves to Jeremy Corbyn’s fence.
Greenhouse gases are created in all sorts of ways, many of which are woven deeply into our economies and lives. We put greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when we use a car (or train, or bus) to get to work, and when we fly in a plane for our holidays. We do it every time we turn on a light, our oven, our TV. The clothes we buy and the food we eat comes from factories and farms that emit greenhouse gas as a byproduct, as do the landfills that our old clothes and food packaging ends up in.
Achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions wouldn’t necessarily mean giving all those things up. We could power our lives with renewable energy sources instead. New technologies that grow meat in vats could do away with methane-producing cows and other livestock.
The problem is that none of these options are currently reliable/cheap/developed enough to meet Extinction Rebellion’s 2025 deadline. So in practice they are asking people to make huge changes to their lives - giving up meat, only buying clothes every few years, restricting travel to local areas, etc.
Most people don’t yet seem inclined to make such big cuts to their quality of life. Extinction Rebellion's protests are raising lots of debates about how much emphasis economies should put on individual wishes and current prosperity versus the rights and wealth of future generations.
We’ve moved beyond a world where your country was all that matters. Our economies have become bigger than we realise. Things we use are less and less likely to come from our own country and more likely to have been imported from a country across the globe – this has become so normal that we’ve forgotten what a huge implication this has for how our economies work…