Climate advocacy group Extinction Rebellion has announced that they will not be engaging in disruptive demonstrations in the foreseeable future following public backlash around extreme environmental protests.
Climate activists were the center of several controversies in 2022, the most prominent being when two women threw tomato soup on a Van Gogh painting in London. Other activists have thrown mashed potatoes at a Claude Monet painting in Germany, with several groups across Europe and the United States staging protests that blockade traffic.
Though not responsible for the infamous incidents surrounding artwork, the founding branch of Extinction Rebellion located in the United Kingdom recently released a statement titled "We Quit."
While XR stated that they still believe public disruption is necessary for a protest movement, they noted that the backlash against their tactics was only further damaging their cause.
"As we ring in the new year, we make a controversial resolution to temporarily shift away from public disruption as a primary tactic," they wrote. "We recognize and celebrate the power of disruption to raise the alarm and believe that constantly evolving tactics is a necessary approach."
In an interview with Good Morning Britain earlier this week, media coordinator for the U.K. chapter of Extinction Rebellion Marijn van de Geer said that the attitude around protests was "we support what you stand for, but we don’t like how you do it."
"We’ve listened to the public," he said.
Polls conducted in the countries most impacted by the protests found that the majority of the public disapproves of advocates' actions, even if they agree with their message. In the United States, 46 percent of respondents disagreed with the protests' tactics, with only 13 percent approving. The United Kingdom found 64 percent disapproving with 21 approving, and Germany saw the largest disparity with 83 percent in opposition and 14 percent in support.
Extinction Rebellion added in their statement: "We must be radical in our response to this crisis and determined in our efforts to address the climate and ecological emergency, even if it means taking a different approach than before."
Though Just Stop Oil, the group responsible for the controversial protests targeting historic artworks, released their own statement via Yahoo News that they have no intentions of stopping.
“It’s 2023 and XR has quit,” they wrote. "But it’s 2023, and we are barreling down the highway to the loss of ordered civil society, as extreme weather impacts tens of millions, as our country becomes unrecognizable. … We must move from disobedience into civil resistance.”
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