Climate change is an existential threat to life on earth. The WHO predicts that in 30 years it will be directly responsible for the deaths of over 250,000 people each year.

Many feel governments are failing to respond. But determined pressure groups are demanding that urgent environmental action be put at the top of the political agenda.

In the UK, a movement called Extinction Rebellion (or XR) believes that the only route to environmental change is through a people's uprising.

"We are trying ... to get people to understand that [climate change] kills people and that it kills people now. It's already killing people; it's not like it's something ahead in the future," says Claire Farrell, the cofounder of XR.

The movement began in October 2018, when a group of activists angered by political inaction on climate change declared themselves in open defiance of the government of the United Kingdom.

"We think it's important that our actions are directed at government because it's only a state-led effort internationally that is going to make a meaningful change to the situation that we're in," Farrell says.

"We are trying to represent the visceral reality of death and suffering which climate change has already started to cause around the world, and which it will cause in the future."

XR works outside the system, engaging in bold, non-violent acts of civil disobedience. Their strategy is to create headline-grabbing protests designed to maximise public exposure. They believe this will gain them a mass following and force real change.

In its biggest protest to date in April 2019, thousands of activists successfully blocked major locations across central London. More than 1,000 protesters were arrested, but the action helped recruit 30,000 new members and XR gained vocal support in 33 other countries.

Amid the growing pressure, the UK government finally agreed to meet XR, and on May 1, the British parliament became the first national parliament to declare a climate and ecological emergency.

earthrise goes inside the Extinction Rebellion movement.

Source: Al Jazeera