What is Extinction Research?
Extinction Research formed in response to inadequacies in the organisation Extinction Rebellion Extinction Rebellion has three demands:
1. TELL THE TRUTH
Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
2. ACT NOW
Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizen's assembly on climate and ecological justice
1. Tell the truth. XR has focused on listing all the terrible things that climate change is doing, but not suggesting what can be done to halt it. It is intellectually lazy to not think about and put forward concrete ways in which emissions can be lowered and stopped.
2. Act now. Reducing net emissions to zero may be possible for the UK where XR originated;
Firstly, since 1990 UK net emissions have fallen 41%, but New Zealand emissions have risen 64%. Thus while UK is making good progress towards the goal, NZ is hopelessly far from it, and trying to achieve net zero by 2025 would lead to economic and societal breakdown. For example, UK per-person emissions have fallen from 13 tonnes/pp to 7 tonnes/pp, while NZ's have risen from 10 tonnes/pp to 12.9 tonnes/pp..
There are other compelling reasons why the target is unfair for NZ:
The UK imports much of its food from abroad and thus has exported the emissions associated with livestock production to other countries, such as New Zealand.. The UK earns foreign exchange by exporting financial services and intellectual property, which are much less emissions intensive than agriculture. Unlike the UK, NZ depends to a greater extent on its large forest sink to achieve its net emissions. Five years is not enough time to plant new trees and for them to begin sequestering carbon so that they can help us meet our target.
We think, based on the UNEP GAP report 2018, that achieving net zero by 2030-2035 will mean that NZ is doing its fair share of keeping the world below 1.5 degrees of warming.
3. Beyond politics.
Demand three reflects UK politics where despair has set in at the lack of democracy implicit in the first-past-the-post election system. In New Zealand, with proportional representation, if enough people thought there was a crisis, this could be reflected in a Parliament which would legislate to solve the climate change crisis. It also does not say how the proposed Citizens Assembly would be elected, and what sway it would have over the actual elected government. I feel that XR should actually form a political party in NZ, so that people who are aware of the climate emergency would have someone to vote for, which they don't now.
Demand one should be suggesting solutions rather than asking the Government to come up with them, and that is why a research organisation is needed. The second reason for a research group is that unless you know what needs to be done, it is impossible to design protest actions targeted at achieving the required change. For example, we need to prioritise protest about agricultural emissions which make up 47% of our total emissions, rather than about coal which makes up only 4% of NZ's emissions.
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