Bern, 18 July 2020

“Keep calm and carry on is a thing of the past”: No Going Back to Normal: Extinction Rebellion demands immediate action to mitigate the climate and biodiversity crisis

“Keep calm and carry on is a thing of the past”: No Going Back to Normal: Extinction Rebellion demands immediate action to mitigate the climate and biodiversity crisis.

“That things are ‘status quo’ is the catastrophe.” - Walter Benjamin, 1937

“Let go of gone things” - Upile Chisala, 2017

“We will not go back to normal, because normal was the problem.” Sentence that activists projected onto the Plaza Italia, Santiago de Chile, 2020

Extinction Rebellion activists confront society with the unpleasant reality and demand immediate political action to mitigate the climate and biodiversity crisis.

Approximately 100 activists will occupy the Bundesplatz in Bern at 13:00 on July 18th. Under the motto #NoGoingBack - no return to normality - and #ActNow, Extinction Rebellion is demanding that the Swiss Federal council and the Parliament take immediate action against the climate and biodiversity crisis. Across the world, millions of people are lobbying politicians to turn away from destroying the basic foundations of life. As recently demonstrated by the Covid-crisis, determined action can effect far-reaching changes, and the public is prepared to accept drastic measures, as long as they are adequately informed of the gravity of the situation. 2020 is the decisive year in which to make the choices necessary for our survival and mitigate the climate catastrophe and ecosystem collapse.

Approximately 100 activists will occupy the Bundesplatz in Bern at 13:00 on July 18th. Under the motto #NoGoingBack - no return to normality - and #ActNow, Extinction Rebellion is demanding that the Swiss Federal council and the Parliament take immediate action against the climate and biodiversity crisis. Across the world, millions of people are lobbying politicians to turn away from destroying the basic foundations of life. As recently demonstrated by the Covid-crisis, determined action can effect far-reaching changes, and the public is prepared to accept drastic measures, as long as they are adequately informed of the gravity of the situation. 2020 is the decisive year in which to make the choices necessary for our survival and mitigate the climate catastrophe and ecosystem collapse.

The CO2 content of the atmosphere continues to rise because we are not meeting the commitments of the Paris Agreement, and the dramatic report of the World Biodiversity Council (IPBES) on the global state of animal and plant life is being criminally neglected. Meanwhile, our government is giving 1.9 billion Swiss francs to support climate-damaging aviation and airlines! It is not fulfilling its constitutional duty to protect us; rather, it is actively making things worse, delivering us up like lambs to the slaughter. We must oppose it.

That is why Extinction Rebellion has launched the #NoGoingBack campaign worldwide. Over the last few weeks, we have pointed out the need for an immediate transformation of our social system through colourful poster campaigns, silent actions in various Swiss train stations, a peaceful bridge blockade in Zurich and today with a creative Visioning Action in Bern.

On July 18th, we will occupy the Bundesplatz/a square in Bern, firmly but without violence, whilst respecting the health precautions necessary to protect ourselves as well as passers-by. Our activists are a heterogenous crowd: students, doctors, scientists, artists, careworkers, farmers, office workers, parents, children and grandparents, both Swiss and non-Swiss.

The creative action, carried out in a peaceful atmosphere, is entitled “Feel the crisis, embrace your emotions, step into action!”

Feel the crisis

The image of three people standing on blocks of ice below a gallows, with nooses around their necks, represents time melting away from our society. Extinction Rebellion has previously carried out similar artistic actions in other places around the world, and is now bringing it to Bern, the seat of our government, because of the continuing failure to act on protecting our climate and biodiversity, the insufficient CO2-law and lack of inclusion of social issues into the existing discussion on climate protection.

Our action will be accompanied by music and short presentations from various perspectives (science, civil society, medicine, agriculture) on the ecological emergency and its effects. The activists are keen to give a public voice to people who are directly affected by the climate and ecological crisis.

Peacekeepers will be stationed around the Bundesplatz. Their role is to inform passers-by about the imminent collapse of our ecosystem and the existential threat that this poses to the survival of our own species on this planet.

Embrace your emotions

The second part of the action presents an important aspect of Extinction Rebellion, which is also important for our future as a society: Regenerative Culture. The focus here is the creation of a resilient and regenerative culture. Through the three components (Recognition - Acceptance - Discussion), we want to learn to handle our emotions and those of other people well. Recognition is necessary so that each person can become aware of him/herself and his/her feelings and can, in the second step, accept them. This promotes individual resilience and ultimately contributes to the strength and continued existence of any group (such as Extinction Rebellion). The third component is especially important: discussing our emotions and how to deal with them with other people. This also creates a feeling of belonging, as all people are affected by the upcoming ecological crisis and this triggers many different, often strong emotions. It is important to talk about them, to discuss and reflect, and to build up the ability to handle them well.

In this second action, we offer the opportunity to have such discussions, in a relaxed atmosphere complete with cushions, food and drinks. These conversations will primarily take the form of empathy circles and emotional debriefings. Mutual trust and respect of one another are particularly important, so that everyone has the opportunity to feel safe and secure.

Step into action

We will give passers-by the chance to discover how small changes can have big effects. Our aim is to make it clear to people that although the climate crisis is becoming bigger every day, that is no reason to become frozen with fear and unable to act. We are offering the chance to see that problems can be solved when we choose to work on them together. This will be presented in a speech on Citizens’ Assemblies, to help people understand the strengths of this instrument of direct democracy and how it can help us overcome the crisis. A People’s Assembly will give activists and visitors a feeling for it should feel to be part of a system in which every human is listened to.

We are here to ask all people to think about what the world could look like if we refused to go back to normality.

We challenge politicians and businesses to put Swiss people, and Swiss responsibility both at home and abroad, in the centre of their decision-making.

Governments worldwide continue to neglect their duty to react appropriately to this existential crisis. What might appropriate reactions look like, in this context? Some examples:

  • Reducing aviation to the bare minimum (for example: rescue flights)
  • Car-free city centres
  • Conversion of the food supply to an ecological, regenerative and climate-friendly agriculture – moving away from artificial fertilizers and intensified use of machinery;
  • Decreasing profits and growth towards zero
  • Adopting a circular economy, and accurate pricing (e.g. in the transport sector)
  • An ecological transition for everyone, not just the few, massive investment in this sector, with many new jobs created
  • Massive investment and deploying a carrot-and-stick approach to achieve rapid energy system transformation
  • Moving away from thinking nationally about what is obviously a global problem: transnational cooperation for unprecedented change

To see more measures, please read Climate Strike Switzerland’s climate action plan, which has our full support. www.climateactionplan.ch

Extinction Rebellion organises non-violent direct actions (blocking streets/bridges/crossroads, colouring rivers, etc) around the world, in order to disrupt daily routines and bring to the forefront of people’s minds the climate and ecological emergency, which is daily being exacerbated by our current capitalist “normality”.

It is time to create the world we want, together.

This is just the beginning.

For more information: media@xrebellion.ch

Picture and video material of the action (will be uploaded continuously):

// https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/179Z64Plj4uorDm4rah1GiPKduVXCHylV?usp=sharing //