Extinction uprising in UK against Australian policy: Athletes do their best to draw attention to the climate crisis

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, former rugby union star David Pocock prepared for Election Day and the conclusion of his independent campaign for the Senate in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

Working on a progressive platform that advocated for climate action, improved housing affordability, and restoring the ACT’s right to legislate for voluntary death assistance, Pocock won a shocking victory and ousted incumbent Senator Zed Cecelia.

The result was confirmed on June 14, almost a month after the election, after a complicated vote count process in Australia.

“Opening Eyes”

For each of these athletes, their connection to the environment began many years ago.

Baldwin has adapted to the realities of climate change on the water, swimming among whales, dolphins and turtles that have surfaced.

“I was acutely aware… how we were going to more and more competitions, and the locals were saying, ‘Usually this kind of weather never happens’… It was quite instructive,” she says. CNN Sports.

Then, visiting a friend who was reading about climate change ahead of the 2019 World Economic Forum, Baldwin realized the true extent of the crisis and encouraged him to become an activist.

“It was like reading a horror movie script,” she says.

Baldwin also serves on the Green Party of England and Wales Campaign Executive Committee.

Stott’s transition from athlete to climate activist was a more gradual process, based on his lifelong love of the outdoors, similar to Pocock, who first worked as a conservationist after retiring from rugby.

Before joining Extinction Rebellion, Stott co-founded Champions for Earth, a group of British climate change athletes.

“Sports have an incredible impact,” he tells CNN. “It gives people a shared emotional experience that really connects them strongly.”

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Similarly, Pocock’s Senate campaign was not his first foray into the political world; his rugby career was marked by activism.

In 2014, he chained himself to mining equipment to protest a new coal mine at Maules Creek in New South Wales, and he and his current wife did not marry until same-sex marriage became legal in Australia.

“I knew what it was like to be that kid who idolized rugby players,” he tells CNN.

“If I could use whatever platform I had during the game to actually talk about these issues that I thought were important and could facilitate a conversation with the youth, then I would be willing to do it.”

“My athlete mindset worked”

As the climate crisis becomes more pronounced, Pocock, Stott and Baldwin have taken advantage of these platforms and used all their sporting experience to step up their campaign.

“You realize that a bunch of skills that you spent thousands of hours developing will never be used again,” Pocock says ironically.

“It’s completely useless for the rest of your life.”

While tackles, jackals and passes may be useless in a Senate campaign, other skills that Pocock developed in rugby proved to be key to his success, such as working with people of differing views to achieve the team’s best interests.

“You have different backgrounds, different religious beliefs, political beliefs, but you have some kind of common goal. And that can be a very important factor,” he says.

Mastering this broad coalition allowed Pocock to win territory that had previously been impossible for anyone but Labor or the Liberals, Australia’s two largest parties.

Pocock hosted a series of forums he called

Pocock’s campaign was community-based, with forums and events he called “Politics in the Park”, offering people the opportunity to get involved in politics.

“It really had to do with connecting with people,” says Pocock. “Meetings with civil society organizations… clarifying issues and then talking to experts.”

“And you will find that there are solutions to many of these problems. We really need the political will to really address them.”

Likewise, his canoeing experience had a lot to do with Stott’s activism. “My athlete mindset worked,” he says.

“We have a purpose, a very clear purpose that we need to preserve for future generations…and Extinction Rebellion had a really clear purpose.”

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Extinction Rebellion used civil unrest and illegal demonstrations to demand that the UK government cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025 and set up a citizens’ assembly to consult on climate justice.

“Besides, as an athlete, you are looking for the most effective methods that will guide you towards your goal,” Stott adds, “and history has proven that peaceful civil disobedience is the most effective method.”

This approach spawned the group’s trademark subversive tactics such as traffic blockades in London, blockades of oil refineries, and highly publicized arrests of peaceful demonstrators.

Stott was arrested after climbing onto the roof of an oil tanker.

“Most people, and I was absolutely the same, would never think about breaking the law … But in this case, I guess, driven solely by caring, caring for others and wanting to do the right thing, it just makes so much sense,” says Stott.

Extinction Rebellion’s extreme tactics drew attention to the urgency of the crisis.

Weeks after the group’s first protest of 2019, which destroyed much of central London, the UK Parliament has declared a climate emergency.

His approach has also drawn criticism from many quarters: the British government, other activists for a lack of diversity, and the British public, with only 15% approval, according to YouGov Poll.

“Journalists have repeatedly asked me: ‘Are you not worried about your reputation?’, but really I’m just worried about my son’s future,” Baldwin says.

“It seemed that the moral right thing in this case was to literally step out in front of the system itself.”

“Telling a More Hopeful Story”

Campaigning inside and outside the system gives different results.

Pocock’s government-bound goals are somewhat more modest than Extinction Rebellion’s – a net zero Australian economy by 2050 with a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 – but it’s a compromise worth making. his.

Pocock also spearheaded The Cool Down campaign, in which more than 470 Australian athletes called for action against climate change.

“When it comes to the big challenges we face, individual choices and actions are important, but ultimately they need to be scaled up by the government to be able to respond in the right time frame,” he says.

In shaping government policy, Pocock seeks to tell “a more hopeful story about what our future might look like.”

For Australia, a country riddled with wildfires and floods, the dangers of a climate crisis are all too obvious, but action to address those risks could also open up new opportunities in industries like green steel and green hydrogen, says Pocock.

Working in government also has its drawbacks; its wheels turn slowly and resources are limited.

“The climate crisis is happening right now,” Baldwin says of his decision to campaign outside the system. “And we absolutely must act now to stop this.”