In July, Policy Exchange, an opaquely-funded free-market think tank, published a widely-reported research paper that branded environmental protesters Extinction Rebellion (XR) as “subversive” and “extremist”.
It said some Extinction Rebellion supporters might “engage in violence” and could “cross the threshold into terrorist activity” – all allegations that got widespread media coverage. But a big question-mark remained hanging over the paper. Namely: who gains from trash-talking a group of eco-warriors as potential terrorists?
Defending the activists on Radio 4’s Today programme, XR spokesperson Rupert Read said to presenter John Humphrys:
“The only purpose of this report is to defend business as usual and it’s business as usual that is killing us. And what I would love you to do, John, is to ask, who is funding this report? Who funds Policy Exchange?... The funders of Policy Exchange are completely non-transparent, but I bet you if we were to find out who they were, we would find out in whose interests it is to undermine XR.”
While Policy Exchange doesn’t like to divulge its funders, VICE can reveal that the think-tank receives funding from some of the UK’s leading energy firms.
On Saturday, More than 6,000 climate activists shut down five bridges in Central London. The protest, organized under the banner of Extinction Rebellion to call for urgent action on climate change, was the first to intentionally block the bridges "in living memory," the group reported.
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