By Eva Rodericks
On Sunday, March 8, over a hundred protesters from Extinction Rebellion (XR) and the Suffolk House Campaign gathered in Canton, Cardiff outside of Suffolk House in the hope of preventing the felling of two historic trees.
One XR protestor climbed up one of the trees and sat in the branches whilst workers proceeded to cut down the tree’s limbs. He was later removed from the tree and arrested and both trees were cut down.
A Cardiff-based firm applied to have the trees cut down as they claimed the trees are damaging the wall surrounding the Suffolk House property, which is soon to be renovated into 17 new homes. Protesters criticised the decision, however, arguing that the trees were perfectly healthy.
XR is a non-violent rebellion protesting for global ‘climate and ecological justice’. At the beginning of this academic year, Cardiff University students set up an XR society called ‘XR Society’. What have they been up to this year?
XR Society hold weekly meetings in the Students’ Union which are used as a chance to discuss any “meetings or protests that people have been to during the week”, a society member told Gair Rhydd. It describes itself as a “non-hierarchical society, so anyone is welcome to express ideas and then start putting them into action. We like to gather into smaller groups during the second half of the meeting to talk about specifics, the groups that meet are things like Outreach, Wellbeing and Arts.”
So far, XR Society has participated in a Black Friday protest in St. David’s Shopping Centre, marching peacefully around the Centre before performing a ‘die-in’, an XR tactic which involves laying on the floor whilst holding up placards.
A member from XR said the aim of this action was to “raise awareness about the impact fast fashion and big tech are having on our planet because big companies are prioritising profit over the environment.” The fashion industry is one of the top polluters globally.
Back in November 2019, Matt Tomlinson, President of XR Society, also represented the society at the Students’ Union’s Annual General Meeting where he proposed a motion calling on the University and Students’ Union to carry out a ‘tell the truth campaign’ on campus by April. The motion passed.
XR Society has informed Gair Rhydd that preparations are currently being put in place for this campaign but it has not yet started.
Speaking about the motion, the Society said: “The reasoning behind the mandate for the Students’ Union to run this campaign is simple. All around us we see the effects of climate change and ecological breakdown. From the wildfires in Australia, California, the Amazon and the Russian tundra, to flooding in Indonesia and the UK… our only option is to tackle this problem head-on and to do this we need to be informed of all the issues we face regarding climate change and ecological breakdown, as unfortunately, there are many.”
Another motion proposed by XR Society was also passed at this year’s AGM, calling on the Students’ Union to be carbon neutral by 2025.
Ultimately, XR Society believes “it is our future at risk, we need to come together to work towards a more desirable outcome.”