Rebel Stories: Pavement meditation

A line of people sitting in meditation posture, in black clothes, wearing 'in love and grief for the earth' placards.

Their hands are in anjali (the prayer gesture)
Shantigarbha leads a mudra (gesture) meditation outside the Bank

The traffic roared in front of us, punctuated by periods of blissful quiet when the crossing lights turned red. 

We were meditating in a line on the pavement outside the oldest purpose-built Barclays Bank on Fleet Street, in the heart of London. 
There were moments of concentration followed by distraction and confusion about the number and direction of different sounds.

Feelings ebbed and flowed: relief to be out on the streets again, doing something to bear witness publicly to the Climate and Ecological Emergency. Moments of deep peace. Curiosity about the police officers chatting to a rebel in front of us. They seemed friendly. Wanting to be safe, and at the same time, wanting to be heard for my urgent concern for impacts on the welfare of current and future beings. 

Shantigarbha is author of The Burning House: A Buddhist response to the climate and ecological emergency due out next month. 

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Rebel Stories: Drumming Activism

By Les

Les with his drum

In my occasional climate activism sometimes I sit quietly. Sometimes I make a noise, drumming with a Samba inspired band. It’s been interesting observing the feelings that arise in these two very different approaches of resistance.  With quietly sitting in the ‘wrong place’, anxiousness arises for me from the feeling of vulnerability but this is calmed by holding the reasons for protest in my heart, the suffering of others and the faint hope that change will come.   

With samba drumming the same reasons drive me,  although anxiousness here is less about vulnerability rather than will I keep time and do I know the tunes!  It’s hard to keep up with the youngsters but the energy from the music and the friendly tribal connection and common goal to reduce suffering fuel me.  

It was even more interesting to be asked to drum, albeit slowly, with the XR Buddhists.  We gathered at the start of the day at South bank and watched Ben Okri’s amazing grass art (‘Can’t you hear the future weeping?’) get floated on the Thames.  Then we came together in a grounding practise with an exercise to focus why we were here,  a huge friendly Krishna from Montreal joined us for a while and kindly shared food from his pedal trike with us. 

We, about 15 of us,  set off in single file,  a very slow silent procession all dressed in black each bearing banners about Barclays Bank along much of Fleet Street.  I was at the back beating the drum slow and loud.  The sound really reverberated between the lovely old buildings and many came out of shops, offices, pubs etc. to see the strange procession,  some stared blankly,  some smirked,  some smiled approvingly,  some shouted ‘get a job’, or ‘save the Whales’ etc.  I had figured there may be some distractions so quietly chanted in my head to help keep time.  I chose to use the mantra “Oṃ Āḥ Hūṃ Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hūṃ” striking the drum good and hard on Om partly because the length suited the timing but also because it had personal significance for me.  I could say a lot about the mantra but roughly it’s about bringing body speech and mind to the guru Padma who brought Buddhism to Tibet.  The Vajra word means thunderbolt but also compassion.  I imagined my beater striking down on the drum like a thunderbolt,  it certainly felt that loud.  I hope that some could sense the compassion that brought us there that day. 

 We spread out and sat meditating quietly with our banners both in and outside of Barclays Fleet Street branch.  The police showed lots of interest but eventually let us be.  I imagined it must be uncomfortable for the bank staff,  needing a job,  bills to pay,  kids to feed,  but with us there highlighting their employers relentless support of ecocide. Many public took leaflets and chatted with our outreach folk,  some hurried past annoyed.  I feel uneasy annoying folk,  but then see the increasing reports of climate breakdown.  The suffering that brings is here now and long endured in the global South and much more of it ahead so I will quietly, non violently but sometimes loudly keep challenging this broken system.  


PS: I bank with Triodos 🙂

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Rebel Stories: Bank Action

By Elizabeth

Walking meditation to the bank

In June I took part in Barclays HQ Action.

We met in the space outside the Tate Museum. After introducing ourselves we had a short grounding meditation and then walked to the top of Fleet Street. There we donned placards with motives depicting how  Barclays Bank’s investments cause ecocide. We proceeded down Fleet Street to a slow drum march which was very moving.

On arrival outside the first Barclays Bank to be opened in the UK 3 rebels sat inside and 6 on the street outside. One rebel lead us with a mudra meditation and we sat for half an hour with one person doing outreach.

After the action we continued our March to a quiet park near the Thames and did a short Regen exercise.

I would definitely take part in this type of demonstration again

Living in a time of ecological and social crisis I am aware of the need to be an active part of a movement seeking to change lifestyles and the economy to being sustainable and life affirming. For me Extinction Rebellion is the international movement that can support these changes.

Rebel Stories: Bank Action Read More »

Arrest report: September 2020 Rebellion

I shut down when I was arrested. I closed my eyes and tried to find some part of me inside which felt stable, while I was carried by officers through Parliament Square.  I could feel my jeans slipping. The officers put handcuffs on me because I wasn’t cooperating. At one point they put me down and told me to pull up my jeans, something I struggled to do while disorientated and with my hands cuffed in front of me.  Someone yelled out ‘throw them in the bath, they are all dirty’, and the police officers (who very much were fed up with carrying me) kindly told me to ignore it.  I was numbly aware that it was possible one of my civil service colleagues might see me ignobly dragged through Whitehall. 

I was asked to be searched, which I agreed to. The officers found a note I’d written asking for someone to call my partner if I was arrested.  A legal observer following me asked if I gave permission for them to take the note. I was so grateful to connect with someone who was on my side.  He took the note, and followed me. By this time I’d agreed to walk, but still mostly had my eyes closed. I can usually navigate my mild autism quite well but I felt it keenly during this period.  We eventually arrived at a police van down by the Foreign Office where I saw Kaspa and Satya. I was in too much shock to have a conversation, but their gentle chatter between themselves and with the officers helped to slowly calm me down.  Orientate myself.

We waited for a long time before setting off in the van.  I was still handcuffed and can remember feeling quite sick, through a combination of nausea, dehydration and shock.  Kaspa and Satya were offered water, I was not, and didn’t quite know how to ask for it, or how I would open the bottles while I was in handcuffs. So I watched the businesses go by and tried to note their names as a way of keeping my mind occupied. I could hear Kaspa and Satya chattering about family visits in the background and tried to leach some of their purported nonchalance.

We arrived at Lewisham police station.  We sat on benches outside the custody suite, they were the sort of benches I used to bunny hop over in school gyms. I was cold, and eventually managed to ask for my hoodie after I’d seen other people asking for things from their bags, which led to them finally unhandcuffing me. That helped unlock some of the mental paralysis I’d been feeling.  I sat next to Satya and overly conscious of not having any XR related chat grilled her on Pureland Buddhism which she gamely fielded. 

I was taken inside for processing.  I was very thirsty by that point, I hadn’t managed to ask for any water.  Asking for things made me feel vulnerable. Being processed was an odd mixture of deep concern (was I okay?  Did I have any injuries to report?  Did I have any mental illnesses? Had my rights been explained to me?  Would I like to take this booklet away to read more about my rights? Of course they could get me some water!) and being treated like an object – particularly when it came to being searched and having my fingerprints and DNA taken.  The custody officer had obviously been on some training as when I told him my title was Mx and explained it was a gender-neutral honourific he asked if I wanted to be searched by a male or female officer (presumably no non-binary officers were around…)

Eventually, and sort of blissfully, I was taken to my ‘cell’.  I can remember doing my NVDA training in Islington ages ago and discovering that in the UK you got your own cell when arrested rather than the more American style ‘drunk tank’ experience. I think that was the first time I thought that maybe I could get arrested.  Eventually, a vegan meal and orange squash appeared as well in the cell.  I was mostly preoccupied by the fact that there wasn’t any toilet paper.  Why wasn’t there any toilet paper?!  Was this on purpose?  Did we not get any?  It took me hours to convince myself that they must want you to ask for it, and that would be an okay thing to do.  Eventually, they took me to make a call to my solicitor and at that point I tried to ask for it as casually as possible and it turned up in my cell five minutes later. 

I couldn’t sleep in the cell.  The blue waterproof mattress wasn’t very conducive to comfort.  Someone was banging on their door.  There was a stencil on the ceiling saying ‘protected by Smart Water’.  What did that mean?  It conjured images of Jennifer Aniston protecting my cell.  I meditated a little. I read aloud from the Thich Nhat Hanh book. 

At some point in the early hours, I was told I would be released.  It’s very dangerous in Lewisham at this time of night, I was told by the officers.  You can stay in the police reception if you want.  I still felt adrenalised and a little numb. Eventually Kaspa and I with another rebel managed to get a taxi back into central London and I was able to jump out when the taxi met the Thames. We were told Satya wouldn’t be released for hours.  This turned out to not be true. 

It was an odd experience walking back along the Thames to my accommodation.  There was a full moon. It was a stretch of the river I knew well. I had many happy times at the National Theatre, at the BFI.  I could see the Houses of Parliament across the river. I could see my first workplace when I started in the civil service. Below that big moon it felt like my life had come to a turning point. 

This whole process has been a difficult one for me. And yet I’m also grateful for many things.  That I could take part in actions without expecting to be treated badly by the police, that I didn’t (in the end) lose my job because of my activism, that I’ve had legal support from XR, and that Kaspa and Satya were there with me. Being in a situation that is more likely to lead to arrest is not possible for everyone. 

The following morning I saw photos of my arrest. I’ve always had a difficult relationship with my body, I hated being photographed and yet I shared those images with everyone I knew. I was proud. 

Arrest report: September 2020 Rebellion Read More »

Volunteers wanted: COP interfaith vigil

To pause, to pray, to meditate in the midst of action is a radical act. 

Are you willing to help us build a community that provides space for that radical act? 

A community that models the power of sharing a profound powerful intentional silence in the face of catastrophe? 

Can you help us create spaces that invite people to pause, and ground themselves back into the mystery of the possible ………………… 

We would love you to join in with our quiet but growing murmuration of hope. 

After the success of the Vigil in Parliament Square in September 2020 and building on our shared experience of creating intentional contemplative spaces within spaces of protest we hope to be able to take the Earth Vigil to Glasgow for COP 26 and we would love to gather as many rebels as possible around this idea in order to make it happen.

Current Situation

  • A small group from XR Faith Bridge have been attending the zoom meetings in preparation for COP covering both ‘Camino to COP’ and ‘Earth Vigil’ and so after a number of discussions about where, when, and how, an outline for the Glasgow Vigil has emerged……
  • Glasgow Friends Meeting House has been booked for storage and daily ‘in person’ updates on vigil place and time.
  • A daily vigil space to be created according to the events of the day, needs/focus of actions and protest.
  • Vigil to start on day one of COP (Nov 1st) – explore the possibility of an opening event which could involve invited speakers.
  • Vigil to close with a through the night candlelit presence on the final evening of the conference – establish if evening before final day (Thursday) or end of the final day (Friday)
  • Vigil to have built in flexibility to allow for changes/events/capacity throughout the 12 days.
  • Vigil to have a signal chat and some form of outreach (flyer/QR code)
  • Use existing Faith Bridge Banners and logos.
  • An online Vigil space to be developed and enabled by a parallel Faith Bridge Group

Some of those who will be involved in the Earth Vigil will be out of action for organising from September 5th onwards because of their commitment to Camino to COP.

How to get involved

email for Glasgow Vigil.

email for Online Vigil

Join our next Zoom Meeting at 6pm on Saturday July 17th

ID 85226408416

PW Vigil

Volunteers wanted: COP interfaith vigil Read More »

Protesting at G7: guIlt, worry, big mind and hope

by Kaspa Thompson

four people standing on a stage made from cubes of scaffolding decorated with large colourful squares, on the beach
The stage at Harbour Beach St Ives.

It was Sunday lunchtime. The heat was blazing. I was sitting with half a dozen XR Buddhists in meditation on Smeatons Pier.

Down on the beach below Rob Hopkins (author of ‘From What is to What if’) was giving a talk about imagination and longing. There was a crowd of rebels listening attentively. XR flags occasionally lifted up and flapped in the light breeze.

I was travelling light and hadn’t bought a meditation cushion or bench. For a while I simply sat cross legged on the hard concrete. Then my back started to ache. I tried taking off my shoes and using them as a cushion. That didn’t help my back at all and my bare feet pressed up against the rough surface of the pier. Then I thought ‘Is my head burning?’, glancing down at the time on my phone and wondering how far through the meditation time we were.

Despite all of this physical discomfort, this was one of the most peaceful and settled experiences throughout my weekend. Despite how few people were looking up at this row of XR Buddhists, or walking by us on the pier, for me this was one of the most significant actions.

There was something very powerful about finding some of what Suzuki Roshi called Big Mind in the middle of, on the one hand, a noisy crowded weekend of protests, and on the other a keen awareness of the suffering that the climate crisis has caused and will continue to cause.

That weekend I had witnessed the prayers and intention setting of the opening ceremony, marched with a thousand others through the streets of St. Ives, waved off the march through Falmouth and spent a decent chunk of time wandering around in the heat with a group of rebels looking for the best place to stage a theatrical action that didn’t happen. I sang with the song-holders, chatted with other rebels and kept an eye on social media and the news for photos and stories of all the actions that I missed, from Ocean Rebellion’s dawn mermaid action to Surfers Against Sewage’s paddle out for the planet. I found time for hanging out with friends on the beach, for sitting in the park with the dogs, and for more than one ice-cream. I watched Satya cover herself with a sheet and become a corpse for the XR Doctors’ action.

a crowd of protestors sitting in the road. Some demonstrators are carrying a large paper mache globe
Extinction rebellion march in protest at business and government ‘greenwashing’ polices, G7 summit, Falmouth, Cornwall, UK

I spent the following week at home noticing guilt, shame and powerlessness washing around inside me. Had any of this made any difference, I wondered? Had I done as much as others? It’s easy for me to feel responsible for the whole of the climate crisis. Of course that’s not true, but I wonder what purpose that belief serves?

I have heard a distinction made between useful suffering and useless suffering. Useful suffering is the unavoidable suffering that is grist to the mill for practice and leads to fellow-feeling and compassion. This is birth, sickness, old-age, death etc. Useless suffering is the creation of a mind trying to avoid ‘useful’ suffering. It is unhelpful beliefs about ourselves and the world: this shouldn’t happen to me; I’m this sort of person, or that sort of person; or – like me in Cornwall – it’s my job to fix it all.

It is helpful to think of two kinds of suffering, but in my experience both types of suffering (suffering in the world and in our minds) are inevitable and both, if approached in the right way, can be a pointer towards love. We all suffer with birth, sickness etc. and we all create belief systems that don’t serve us.

If we can notice this in a loving way, with some kindness and spaciousness, we discover something about the human condition.  Feeling tender towards our body/mind and their troubles, we begin to feel tender towards the body/mind of others.

This kind of attention brings wisdom. When I get curious about this habit of taking responsibility for all, I discover a couple of things. This habit has good intentions but mistaken beliefs: if I do a good job of being the responsible one I won’t get into trouble. Maybe that was true at one time, but it isn’t true now. I also discover that it keeps me away from paying closer attention to the real harm that I cause (through my carbon footprint etc.). In this role this habit again has good intentions but a mistaken belief: I’ll keep Kaspa safe by keeping him away from these truths, otherwise he will be overwhelmed by shame and guilt. Ironically it serves this purpose by using one dose of shame and guilt to avoid a different one.

As I maintain a loving attitude through this investigation, the habits reveal these truths to me, and they begin to relax and let go. In the light of loving kindness and wisdom the delusion begins to dissolve.

As these habits loosen their grip, really useful questions appear: are there ways in which my actions cause harm? Are there things I can change in response to seeing that? And where is the best place to put my energy, being the kind of person I am, in the crisis we are all facing?

The weekend following the Cornwall actions I co-led a mindful walk on the hills and took part in two XR Buddhist events: a debrief for the G7 actions and a mantra chanting session. Through spending time in those spaces I was reminded again that it is Buddhist practice alongside activism that is the most meaningful to me, and the place where I can best make a contribution. 

I am reminded again of that moment on the pier, when I experienced a deep sense of peace and a knowing both that this was a significant action and that regardless of the impact there is always something to take refuge in: Buddha, the Pure Land, Nirvana, emptiness. The love and wisdom we find there is unconditional: we are welcome there, and it does not depend on anything in the world for its existence.

In actions like this I am given a glimpse of the completion of the Bodhisattva vow (to save all beings) and of the Bodhichitta (the heart of awakening).  Often we think of activism and practice as separate: we act, and then we return to practice to digest the action, and then we act again and then we return to practice and so on.

When our hearts are awakened we naturally make an appropriate response to whatever we find. In the Buddha wisdom, compassion and action arise spontaneously, together and without selfish calculation. Usually our activism and our Buddhist practice support one another. Ultimately they become the same thing.

Often the form of XR Buddhists’ actions reflect this understanding, as we meditate in the road, or in a bank, or whilst winding our way through a busy protest in walking meditation.

Recalling that useful question: where is the best place to put my energy? I find the answer here. I am called to create the conditions for this kind of activism and for this kind of practice: where a deep care for the earth and Buddhist practice and taking action come together.

As to the effectiveness of our actions? On the one hand we are encouraged to let go of results, and I bring to mind how profound and meaningful these actions are in the moment of acting and trust that that is enough, and on the other hand I look back over the past three years since the foundation of Extinction Rebellion and see how far the national conversation on the climate crisis has moved and I am given some hope.

Kaspa Thompson is currently co-coordinator of XR Buddhists. He is a Buddhist teacher at Bright Earth Buddhist Temple, and a psychotherapist.

Protesting at G7: guIlt, worry, big mind and hope Read More »

Protest Outside First Ever Barclays BANK

On Friday 25th June at approximately 12.30pm members of Extinction Rebellion Buddhists conducted a walking meditation to the beat of a slow drum to Barclays Bank at 19 Fleet Street, the first Barclays to be opened in the UK. They sat in meditation across the front of the Bank wearing placards reading ‘Barclays the Ecocide Bank.’ The protest was to highlight the bank’s unrelenting high investment in fossil fuel projects.

A man with a large red drum on his hip, with his arm raised holding the drumstick.
Les drums to accompany the walking meditation photo by Lou Graphy

Despite its stated commitment [1]  to reduce its lending to move to net zero emissions by 2050, Barclays has actually increased their lending to fossil fuels projects last year [2]

Barclays has invested almost $145bn in fossil fuel industries since the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2015. Barclays is the biggest investor in fossil fuel projects of any bank in Europe and seventh biggest in the world. The bank’s investments are also impacting indigenous communities in the USA and elsewhere, and increasing deforestation. [3]

a line of people wearing black, wearing signs which read 'Barclays the Ecocide Bank', and 'In Love and Grief for the Earth'.
XR Buddhists walking meditation to Barclays, photo by Lou Graphy

A spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Buddhists UK said:

‘We are targeting the first Barclays bank to be opened in the UK. It is a lovely building but unfortunately the history of its investments is not so lovely. From its funding of the apartheid regime in the 1960s, to its current continuing funding of destructive coal, oil and gas projects across the planet it continues to be a destructive force in the financial world. And this is despite the clear scientific evidence of the imminent dangers of its investments and its pledge to be a net zero bank by 2050. XR Buddhists are engaging in a peaceful meditation action today. In bringing our faith tradition to the front lines of activism we embody a peaceful determination to protect our one precious Earth and all of life. We hold the staff of Barclays in our hearts also; they are also going to be impacted by climate breakdown. But as a company we consider Barclays to be acting in a way that meets the definition of the crime of ecocide, recently published by the Ecocide Foundation.’

In the last few days the crime of Ecocide has been formulated by an independent expert panel comprising twelve lawyers from around the world. They are proposing that the crime of  Ecocide be added to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. This would make it a criminal offence to commit: unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts. [4] 

  • Three people sitting outside Barclays. There is a banner reading XR Buddhists on the ground.
  • A person sitting in meditation inside the bank
  • A person sitting in meditation inside the bank
  • A line of people in walking meditation. The person at the front holds a sign reading Barclays the Ecocide Bank.

There are almost a quarter of a million Buddhists in the UK: a growing number are becoming concerned about the impacts that humans are having on the climate and on other living beings.  Recently, the Dalai Lama joined 100 other Nobel Prize laureates to call for action on climate change.  The letter stated “Climate change is threatening hundreds of millions of lives, livelihoods across every continent, and is putting thousands of species at risk. The burning of fossil fuels—coal, oil, and gas—is by far the major contributor to climate change [5]”.


For further information on Extinction Rebellion Buddhists, for photos or interviews please contact us via email at: or 07532 383676


[1] seeOur ambition to be a net zero bank by 2050’ March 2020

[2] ‘Barclays has increased its financing of fossil fuel firms despite setting a ‘net zero’ goal for itself earlier this year following investor pressure, according to a new report.’

[3] Banking on Climate Chaos Rainforest Action Network

[4] For more details see The Stop Ecocide Foundation:

[5] Dalai Lama Joins Nobel Laureates in Earth Day Appeal to Eliminate Fossil Fuels

Protest Outside First Ever Barclays BANK Read More »

Sitting alone in the road

XR Buddhist Satya was one of hundreds of rebels who chose to sit alone in a road today, to highlight how afraid they are of the consequences of not acting urgently enough in the face of the climate crisis.

Satya writes: After weeks of preparation, anxiety grabbing me in the stomach whenever I imagined this moment, I felt calm as I walked into the road this morning and stopped the traffic.

I had no support from the public. The boy who mocked me. The old woman who muttered obscenities at me. The man who drove his car within a centimetre of me and then rolled down his window to hiss in my face, ‘dumb bitch’. I get it – I was the crazy lady, stopping them from getting where they needed to go. Ranting about apocalyptic futures. What does any of it have to do with them? How dare I?

I don’t need people to like what I’m doing. I need them to open their hearts – just a tiny crack – to the true horrors of the climate and ecological emergency. We won’t reach everyone. But maybe one member of the public wondered why I would be desperate enough to do such a thing. Maybe one parent thought about their daughter’s future. Maybe you, reading this, will take action of your own.

Today hundreds of us across the UK were alone together as we blocked busy roads, our hearts pounding. We will keep raising the alarm, until the truth is told and until urgent action is taken. We refuse to be by-standers. We will SPEAK UP.

Local Press: The action received good local press in Worcester. See photos of other rebels in Worcester, and read their quotes in the Worcester News.

Satya sitting in the middle of a road, wearing a sign that says I am terrified of starving people resorting to violence because of the climate crisis
Satya sitting in the road in Worcester
A police officer pulls Satya out of the road by one arm, Satya is lying half in and half our of the road
Being pulled out of the road

Sitting alone in the road Read More »

Okavango Delta Action 22nd April 2021

Extinction Rebellion UK, XR Families, XR Buddhists, in cooperation with Extinction Rebellion Africa and Namibian and Canadian Activists organise peaceful protest Earth Day action to Canadian High Commission, Trafalgar Square (London), to demand Canada, home of ReconAfrica, and other members of the G7 (the company trades and has offices in 4 of those 7 countries) stop this project, all new oil exploration, criminalise ecocide and fund alternatives for countries like Namibia and Botswana to whom a climate debt is owed.

Thanks to Joao Daniel Pereira for the photos. If you are inspired by these photos please sign this letter.

London, UK. April 21st, 2021. Extinction Rebellion families gather in front of the High Commission of Canada to protest against the drilling of the Okavango Delta for oil by the company Recon. Credit: Joao Daniel Pereira.
London, UK. April 21st, 2021. Extinction Rebellion families gather in front of the High Commission of Canada to protest against the drilling of the Okavango Delta for oil by the company Recon. Credit: Joao Daniel Pereira.
London, UK. April 21st, 2021. Extinction Rebellion families gather in front of the High Commission of Canada to protest against the drilling of the Okavango Delta for oil by the company Recon. Credit: Joao Daniel Pereira.
London, UK. April 21st, 2021. Extinction Rebellion families gather in front of the High Commission of Canada to protest against the drilling of the Okavango Delta for oil by the company Recon. Credit: Joao Daniel Pereira.
London, UK. April 21st, 2021. Extinction Rebellion families gather in front of the High Commission of Canada to protest against the drilling of the Okavango Delta for oil by the company Recon. Credit: Joao Daniel Pereira.
London, UK. April 21st, 2021. Extinction Rebellion families gather in front of the High Commission of Canada to protest against the drilling of the Okavango Delta for oil by the company Recon. Credit: Joao Daniel Pereira.
London, UK. April 21st, 2021. Extinction Rebellion families gather in front of the High Commission of Canada to protest against the drilling of the Okavango Delta for oil by the company Recon. Credit: Joao Daniel Pereira.

Okavango Delta Action 22nd April 2021 Read More »

Protest at the Namibian High Commission in London against ReconAfrica oil drilling licences in Namibia and Botswana

Male activist in a blue jumper, outside a building with black railings. He holds up a sign which says 'No Drill, No Kill, in the Okavango'.

22 March 2021: Protesters including XR Buddhists Nick Clarke and Zoe Solomans outside the Namibian High Commission in London highlighting the risks posed by oil drilling licences granted to Canadian oil company ReconAfrica. 

Licences for oil exploration (with a 25 year licence for oil production if oil is discovered) cover an area of approximately 35,000 sq kms of which about 25,0000 are in Namibia. In total this is an area larger than the size of Holland! The boundary of the licenced areas include the main river flowing into the Okavango Delta which it abuts for about 270 kms and up to the edge of the Delta. The Delta is an oasis in the middle of the Kalahari desert, so large it can be seen from space and home to the largest remaining wildlife populations in Africa and a UNESCO world heritage site. It also remains the home of the San people, so ancient that all modern humans can trace their DNA to them. All of this is under threat from the inevitable pollution from oil drilling.

Drilling is being conducted by a Canadian company, ReconAfrica. A number of its chief officers have a background in fracking, from its founder Craig Steinke and including its VP of Drilling (who pioneered fracking in the US) and its current CEO. The company believes there are 125 billion barrels of oil in the region. If burnt that would release 1/6th of the worlds remaining carbon budget!

An activist in a blue coat knocks on the door of an old expensive building to deliver a letter.

This is a project of such insanity it is hard to find the right words. All of these plans were under the radar until drilling began this year. However the world is waking up. 

Activists in Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Germany and Canada are challenging these plans. In the UK we are linked to them and are uniting under the banner of ReConOut! This network includes people within XR (with a strong XR Buddhist and faith flavour) and from the region. ReConOut were at the Namibian High Commission to present a letter to the Namibian High Commissioner, HE Linda Scott describing their concerns. You can find a link to this letter below. 

At this action Nick Clarke said: “Today is World Water Day and I am joining with activists across the globe highlighting threats to water systems. The Okavango Delta is a jewel of biodiversity, its value is beyond all measure and its waters sustain the livelihoods of more than a million people. Oil exploration inevitably risks polluting the Delta. If we were to burn the amount of oil ReconAfrica believes is there it will contribute to catastrophic levels of climate change risking billions of deaths and the collapse of our human societies. In solidarity with activists in Namibia, Botswana and Canada and indigenous peoples of the region I am imploring the Namibian government to think again and look for sustainable alternatives to meet its economic and energy needs. We understand this would come at a cost and we demand industrialised countries support Namibia to fund these alternatives.”

Two activists, one in a wheelchair, hold up a sign which says 'No oil drilling in the Okavango #reconout'.

Moving forward the network will be focussing on G7 leaders as they meet in Cornwall in early June. These G7 talks will include much on climate change and plans for the COP climate talks in Glasgow in November. ReconAfrica has corporate links with the US, Canada, Germany and the UK. The failure of industrialised countries to regulate their companies, to allow further oil exploration at home and globally, to not meet their commitments to fund alternatives to fossil fuels for countries in the global south to meet their energy and economic needs and the UK cancellation of much of its overseas aid… these and others are all issues it will be demanding leaders address. The Drilling in the watershed of the Okavango Delta needs to be urgently stopped: it is profiting shareholders in the global North and the wealth of a small company above the lives of millions in the short term and all of life in the future and sacrificing a priceless pristine ecosystem. In challenging this project we can also show how it exemplifies so many issues that must be addressed globally.

ReConOut will be starting with actions in April and May, building momentum towards the G7 talks and then on to COP.

To receive updates and get involved please sign up here: or email

Protest at the Namibian High Commission in London against ReconAfrica oil drilling licences in Namibia and Botswana Read More »