(This is the third installment of a three-part series explaining why Extinction Rebellion decided to launch an "October Rebellion" on October 16.)
A spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Vancouver says his group is planning on replicating the tactics of a direct-action group in the U.K., Insulate Britain, which has repeatedly blocked the major road surrounding London.
At an October 9 news conference in Dunbar, Zain Haq said local activists will hold nonviolent protests for 14 consecutive days from October 16 to 29, halting traffic on Vancouver’s busiest arterials.
In addition, Extinction Rebellion Vancouver is going to try to prevent people from travelling to Vancouver International Airport on October 25.
“The press is going to say ‘You’re disrupting the great Canadian public.’ And what we’re going to say is that this airport is resulting in the destruction of this country,” Haq declared.
Today at noon, members of the group will gather in Nelson Park to begin their "October Rebellion". They will walk from the park to the intersection of Burrard and West Georgia streets, where they will hold a mass "die-in", blocking traffic.
Haq said back on October 9 that this is being done in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en people who are battling the Coastal GasLink pipeline to protect their sacred headwaters of the Wedzin Kwa (Morice River).
The next action on Sunday (October 17) will block Commercial and East Broadway, followed by two more days blocking the intersection at Granville and West Georgia streets.
On Day 5 of the October Rebellion, activists plan to block the Burrard Bridge.
"Whenever in the past we’ve blocked the Burrard Street bridge, we’ve got high numbers of arrests," Haq said. "The first time was around 11; the second time it was around 12. And this time it’s going to be around the same if not more."
He also revealed that Extinction Rebellion Vancouver members have been inspired by Insulate Britain.
Its founder, former organic farmer Roger Hallam, also cofounded Extinction Rebellion in the U.K. before breaking away in a dispute over the shutdown of Heathrow Airport.
Hallam favoured using drones to shut down air traffic in 2019, but this was opposed by others in Extinction Rebellion. He was subsequently arrested after doing this with another group called Heathrow Pause.
The Straight asked Haq if Extinction Rebellion Vancouver would use drones to shut down air traffic at Vancouver International Airport.
“Potentially, but we haven’t made up our mind,” Haq replied. “Uhm, if that happens, I might be the one doing it. Certainly, we’ll be blocking the road that goes to the airport.”
He maintained that the Canadian government is “acting in a treasonous way” by pursuing climate policies that will lead to “mass starvation”.
Haq noted the absence of journalists at the October 9 news conference. In fact, the Straight was the only media outlet that showed up to hear why Extinction Rebellion Vancouver members felt it was necessary to launch their October Rebellion.
According to Haq, the next time journalists ask why they don't use other methods to raise awareness about the climate crisis, he could reply that "this press conference is proof that those other means often don't work."
"Which is why, on the 25th, we'll be shutting down the airport. And that's going to be the major airport," Haq added. "The reason for that is the airport is a euphemism nowadays for a centre for mass extermination."
He also ridiculed YVR CEO Tamara Vrooman's declaration that the airport would achieve net-zero emissions by 2030.
"Now, think about what net-zero carbon emissions for an airport means," Haq said. "I don’t know if people have noticed, but airports are where airplanes land and take off.
"And you cannot have a net-zero airport if you have airplanes over there, unless you don’t want to count the only thing that makes an airport an airport," he continued. "So we are going to be calling out this hypocrisy by closing down the airport."
According to the David Suzuki Foundation, one return flight from Montreal to London emits as much carbon-dioxide equivalents as heating a European home for a year.
"If the aviation sector were a nation, it would be among the top 10 global emitters," the foundation noted. "It is responsible for 12 per cent of transportation emissions."
The Air Transport Action Group states on its website that 4.5 billion passengers flew on the world's airlines, which account for about two percent of all human-induced carbon-dioxide emissions.
A study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters in 2017 says that living car-free for a year will prevent annual emissions of about 2.4 tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalents.
Each transatlantic round-trip flight emits about 1.6 tonnes of carbon-dioxide emissions per person, according to the study.
The study found that the biggest reduction in carbon footprints came from having one fewer child in developed countries. That would save 58.6 tonnes of annual emissions of carbon-dioxide equivalents.
Haq did not address the issue of whether the western industrialized world needs more rigorous population-control measures to stave off environmental catastrophe.
Protests zero in on fossil-fuel subsidies
Another speaker at the Extinction Rebellion Vancouver news conference, Lauren Emberson, said that the group has only one demand: an end to government subsidies to the oil, gas, and coal industries.
Environmental Defence estimated that there were $18 billion in federal subsidies to the fossil-fuel sector in 2020. Stand.earth declared that the B.C. NDP government offered up another $1.3 billion in fossil-fuel subsidies this year.
“We are not asking the government to shut down these industries,” Emberson said. “We’re not even asking them to keep their international agreements for the level of carbon in our society. We are simply asking them not to use our own money to pay for our own extinction.”
At the same news conference, Haq spoke about the importance of humiliating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over federal and provincial subsidies to the fossil-fuel sector in advance of the COP26 global climate conference. It begins in Glasgow on October 31.
He described subsidies as being like selling someone fentanyl to help pay for their rehab.
"They either have the option of ending subsidies immediately or looking ahead and an arrest tally of dozens if not 100 people. And being embarrassed by that at COP," Haq said.
A third speaker at the news conference, a man who identified himself as Badger, said that the world is on track for an average global temperature increase of 4° C this century above pre-industrial times.
“When carbon goes into the atmosphere, it still takes a little time to start heating the planet—around 20 to 30 years,” Badger stated. “So even if we turn the pipes off magically right now, we have 20 to 30 years of the last emissions—which have been the greatest ever in the history of our planet—coming down the pipes warming things.”
According to Badger, temperature will rise twice as quickly in the middle of continents, where a great deal of food production takes place.
“What happens at four degrees [higher]?” Badger asked. “Grain farming becomes unsustainable. It isn’t possible to farm grain at those temperatures that are sustained over a long period of time.”
That, he argued, will lead to famine and societal collapse.