13 Apr 2023
The Big One is a massive mobilisation for climate justice and is taking place Friday 21 to Monday 24 April outside the Houses of Parliament in London. The protest is being organised by Extinction Rebellion (XR) and is supported by Friends of the Earth and dozens of other organisations.
As the climate crisis deepens, and we face threats to our right to protest, now is the time to take action.
Please sign up to XR’s mailing list to get updates on the event and important safety and legal information. Please email us on email@example.com and let us know if you or your local action group are planning to join, or if you have any questions about Friends of the Earth’s presence at The Big One.
Why is Friends of the Earth supporting the protest?
The world’s scientists have delivered another stark warning about the need for urgent and ambitious action to prevent runaway climate breakdown. Despite pledges from politicians in the UK and globally, we’re still not seeing the rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions needed to protect people and the planet. In the UK, analysis shows the government is off track meeting its own legally binding carbon reduction targets.
Friends of the Earth has a long history of supporting non-violent, lawful actions to protect communities and the environment. The cost-of-living and climate crises are escalating. Government action is failing to match the scale of these emergencies. We think it’s vital to be part of this demonstration, which brings together diverse organisations from across environmental, health, housing, workers and social justice movements. Parliament is failing to act so it's absolutely right that the people should gather there and demand to be heard.
XR is clear that it’s designing the protest to be peaceful, safe and inclusive and is in regular contact with the police in order to facilitate the event taking place. It’s also an important time to be defending and making use of our right to peaceful protest as it’s increasingly under threat from multiple angles, including the use of anti-protest injunctions, and draconian legislation like the Public Order Bill.
The Big One: what's happening during the protest?
The protest is scheduled to last from Friday 21 to Monday 24 April. Each day will have a slightly different theme. You’re free to attend as much or as little as you want. We’ll be focusing on the first two days, although activities will continue for a further two.
Here’s a breakdown of what will be taking place on each day.
Friday 21 April: the protest will begin with People’s Pickets surrounding government departments in and around Westminster with our demands for climate justice. Friends of the Earth will be joining Global Justice Now and War on Want to picket the Department of Business and Trade (Admiralty Place, SW1A 2DY) from 12-2pm with a call to Exit the climate-wrecking Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). Fossil fuel companies are using the ECT to sue countries in shadowy "corporate courts", when governments adopt climate policies that hit their profits.
More information on Friends of the Earth involvement in other pickets coming soon.
Saturday 22 April: will mark Earth Day and will include a march for nature, biodiversity and the planet. This will be a colourful, creative and family-friendly day and also the main opportunity to join in with Friends of the Earth. More information can be found on Facebook. Look out for the Friends of the Earth flags, banners and placards.
Sunday 23 April: the London Marathon will pass through Parliament Square and there will be an opportunity to engage with the crowds of spectators.
Monday 24 April: parliament returns. The People’s Pickets continue, as well as bringing the peoples’ demands to Parliament.
Post-event: what next?
Wednesday 26 April: Friends of the Earth is holding a “Welcome to Friends of the Earth” webinar in the evening. This isn’t officially part of The Big One, but we reckon it’ll be a good place to invite people you meet during the protest who are interested in joining your local action group, or want to find out more about Friends of the Earth. You can register for this event on Eventbrite.
The Big One: the legal situation
Friends of the Earth policy is only to participate in actions that are non-violent and lawful.
XR have stated: “Our plans do not include roadblocks, or locking on or gluing on to anything. Nor do we plan to throw paint at buildings, or anything of that nature. This is because The Big One intentionally focusses on attendance over arrest and relationships over roadblocks.”
XR is proactively liaising with the Metropolitan Police in order to prioritise inclusivity, safety and respect for human rights, and they’ve been clear that the aim is to take the message to government, and not disrupt the public.The police have affirmed the right to peacefully protest outside government buildings. The police have assured the organisers that there will be no sudden surprises for attendees that put them at unexpected risk of arrest. Updates will be shared widely by XR, to keep everyone as safe as possible.
However, we can’t guarantee the behaviour of everyone taking part in the protest or of the police. Anyone participating does so at their own risk and we would encourage you to sign up to XR's mailing list for updates or check regularly for changes to the arrangements for the event.
Getting to The Big One and accommodation
Local XR groups from outside London will be organising transport by coach or train for one or more of the days. Many XR groups will also be arranging accommodation for people traveling with the group. There are plans for campsites, and a limited number of spaces will be available to stay in the homes of XR activists and supporters in London.
Friends of the Earth isn’t providing any transport or accommodation ourselves, so if you’re looking for travel and accommodation options, please get in touch with your local XR group.
Working with other groups
If you haven’t already been in touch with your local XR group, it’s a good idea to speak with the group, to find out if its planning transport and accommodation. We know there’s a lot of overlap in members between some XR groups and local action groups.
The Big One might be an opportunity to think about building broader alliances in your local area. There is some advice on building local alliances on our website.
Getting up to date information
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know if you or your local action group are planning to join, or if you have any questions about Friends of the Earth presence at The Big One.
To ensure you get the most up to date information about the protests, accessibility, and any changes to plans, please sign up for information directly from XR.