We should be marching on

written by Extinction Rebellion member Livia

Already almost four months ago, on a cloudy Friday afternoon in May, a few hundred students and citizens of Wageningen came together to march the streets of our small town, to raise awareness for the climate crisis we are in. During this march, both the university and the municipality were asked to give a response to the three demands of Extinction Rebellion: 1. to declare climate emergency, 2. to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gasses to net zero by 2025 and 3. to create a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

WUR said that the university is already doing enough to combat climate change.

What the reactions came down to, is that while the municipality was open for a dialogue and cooperation with the rebellion, the spokesperson of the executive board of WUR said that the university is already doing enough to combat climate change.

After the march, Extinction Rebellion told Resource magazine that they gave the university the chance to take position and do the right – maybe even brave – thing: to to tell the truth, to be honest about the climate crisis we are in and to instigate authority to act. However, based on the university’s reaction during the march in May, it seemed that the university was not eager to spread such a message.

Surprisingly, not much later, XR received an email from WUR’s spoke person. Extinction Rebellion was invited to have a conversation about XR’s demands. This meeting took place on the 13th on June, not even a month after the march. What became clear was that the university’s view was more nuanced than it seemed in the statement they gave at the climate march. The university promised to organize a public panel discussion on whether or not there is enough climate awareness among students of the university. The spokesperson even mentioned to invite the executive board.

Do the right – maybe even brave – thing: tell the truth, be honest about the climate crisis we are in and instigate authority to act

Secondly, they promised to organize a discussion on the question whether or not it is possible to have a big societal transition towards sustainability and climate resilience without the help of big companies and what the role of these big business enterprises on campus is supposed to be. Thirdly, the university would seriously reconsider the way they show their point of view or ‘advertise’ climate change or, what would actually already be a good improvement, the climate crisis.

You could say that there must be enough room for improvement, since on the exact same day as the climate march, which started in front of Atlas, not even 100 meters away from there, inside Lumen an event took place organized by Shell.

The point is that, we are now four months late and to our knowldge, none of the above has happened, nor has the university contacted anyone after. If there is no action now, Extinction Rebellion will continue to disrupt, until XR’s demands for climate justice are heard and acted upon. All meetings were no more than a conversation to extend the real conversation. The climate crisis will not stop and if this is not generally acknowledged by an institution of the likes of Wageningen University, then you might wonder who would. There can and should be discussions on topics, such as whether or not the technology-oriented road the university decided to take is the right one, but even after promising to organize such events the university lacks willpower or eagerness to hear what the world around it, may it only be its students, has to say on its actions, or on the shortage of those.

There will be no rest before the demands are met

As in Extinction Rebellion fashion, there will be no rest before the demands are met by big institutions. The disruption will be continued. Just keep an eye on the news from the 7th of October onwards [on this day, Extinction Rebellion will start its Rebellion Week]. Hopefully after then, there will be news to report on regarding the university’s incentive for climate justice.