Roger Hallam, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain, speaks to the Extinction Rebellion Glasgow University on the effects of climate change and the importance of climate justice.
On Sunday 7 November, Roger Hallam, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain, delivered a speech to the Extinction Rebellion Glasgow University (XRGU) group. The group was not able to book a room at Glasgow University for the talk due to COP26, so the meeting was held in a member’s flat, with around 20 students in attendance and the presence of a police car outside.
Hallam began by berating COP26, saying: “We are all being systematically lied to.” He also suggested that experts at COP26 know that there is no carbon budget but are unwilling to admit it, stating: “In five years time, there will be three guilt-stricken establishing scientists writing a conversation, and they’re gonna say: ‘At COP26 in Glasgow 2021 we did not know a single scientist who thought that there was a carbon budget left.’”
In his speech he claimed the climate crisis is worse than slavery and Hitler: “Next year slavery [could] be obscene, disgusting and outrageous, but it wouldn’t be ten times as bad [as it is now], would it?” He went on: “Hitler was like the personification of evil [but] he’s not gonna last forever. This [climate crisis] is gonna last forever.”
The final part of his speech was a call to action, specifically regarding training for non-violence direct action and joining the “Insulate Britain” campaign. Hallam urged the students in attendance to devote all of their time and efforts to civil disobedience, even if that meant disruption to their studies. He noted: “What do people do over and over in history? What they do is whatever is necessary to change the situation. That’s your starting point.”
“Hallam urged the students in attendance to devote all of their time and efforts to civil disobedience, even if that meant disruption to their studies.”
Addressing the group of university students, Hallam said: “This is not a fucking campaign, it’s the end of the world. It means you give up all your preconceptions of what doing a little trendy university campaign is about. That’s not the deal. There’s millions of people dying as I speak; it just hasn’t gotten to this country yet, but it will.”
The talk ended with a Q&A, in which one student noted, “I feel like Insulate Britain alienates people from climate activism. What’s the point [of the campaign] if it alienates people?” They continued: “I think there are other ways to insulate homes”. Hallam replied: “There’s not been a radical change project in history that doesn’t piss people off.”
Answering this same question, he continued: “Martin Luther King [Jr.] was the most popular man in America. Why was that? Because he was pushing that reality about injustice into their face. When the people [of Insulate Britain] go onto the road, it’s not just about insulation. When people go onto the road, they’re pushing into the public sphere the obscene outrage of betraying the next generation.”