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‘It was terrifying’: New battle against fossil fuels to stop oil activists | Just stop the oil

debtyears before us, when annihilation rebellion When they started blocking roads in London in their calls for action on climate change, they brought a DIY carnival vibe, turning protests into festivals of resistance.

When climate change activists blocked a road near Waterloo, just south of the River Thames, on Thursday morning, they were about 20 hard-faced campaigners, dressed in sensible clothes and hi-vis vests. and wet the asphalt with your hands while enduring abuse from passers-by.

They have blocked three entrances to the St George’s Circus roundabout, one of the busiest junctions in south London. Within minutes, the scene had flashing blue lights, dozens of police officers, and traffic jams in all directions.

XR’s newest successor, Just Stop Oil, pledged to block roads in central London every day this October. Friday is the 14th day in a row. Strengthen tactics again with two young women. Throw paint into Vincent van Gogh’s sunflower painting at the National Gallery, a polarizing action that surprised many. Another action involved spraying a revolving sign at New Scotland Yard, the Metropolitan Police Headquarters.

Their request is simple. Governments agree to a moratorium on all new oil and gas projects, in line with the recommendations of the International Energy Agency.

Two Just Stop Oil protesters splashed tomato soup on Vincent van Gogh’s sunflowers at the National Gallery in London. Photo: Antonio Olmos/Guardian

with the government announced a new round of licensing Only last week did the prospects for their success look bleak, but the activists remained committed. said Katt, sitting in front of St George’s Circus.

“It’s fueling the cost of living crisis and making temperatures even hotter. So I’m not going to stand by and watch this government commit crimes against humanity by continuing to invest in the fossil fuel industry. is wrong.

“So here I am sitting on the road peacefully and non-violently. Here are our demands: No new oil and gas.”

Just Stop Oil stepped onto the activists’ arena in April in a bold plan to block the flow of fossil fuels in southern England by coordinating blockades of the terminals through which they flow.

From April 1st, Just Stop Oil’s supporters have grown to a maximum, in what they described as a strategic shift from XR civil disobedience to a new model of “civil resistance”. 10 fuel distribution facilities A day, roadblocks, large-scale trespassing, digging and occupying tunnels, boarding tankers.

Within days, local newspapers reported queues and shortages at petrol stations throughout the Midlands, Kent, parts of Cambridgeshire and even Wales.Analysis of official fuel distribution data by Guardian showed a one-fifth drop in deliveries across the country. Drop-offs were even steeper in areas served by terminals targeted by protesters, with deliveries down 43% in the West Midlands, 44% in London and 48% in the East of England.

just stop oil It didn’t come out of nowhere. Roger Hallam, the social movement strategist behind XR and Insulate Britain, is also considered influential in Just Stop Oil. Many of the leading activists from previous radical environmental campaigns have also joined Just Stop Oil circles. Animal Rebellion, an offshoot of Vegan XR, has lent activists and expertise from dairy distributor lockdowns.

But while XR, especially Insulate Britain, relied on hardcore older activists who were prepared to be arrested multiple times, Just Stop Oil was planned as a youth-led campaign. I was.Haram is Reportedly touring colleges Talk to young people about the climate crisis and sign them up.

Just Stop Oil protesters spray paint a rotating sign outside New Scotland Yard
A Just Stop Oil protester spray paints a rotating sign outside New Scotland Yard in London. Photo: Stéphane Rousseau/PA

Newcastle’s Alex De Conning interrupted his PhD in green hydrogen after someone shoved a Just Stop Oil flyer into his hand. “It said: Find out what young people are doing about climate change,” he told The Guardian.

“So we went along. And what I found was really shocking. It was heartbreaking.” [to learn] how urgent the situation was; But more importantly, the government has done very little about it. In fact, the government is actively exacerbating the problem for profit. And it changed my life. ”

De Koning, who had never been to a protest before, found himself sitting for 14 hours with a friend driving in front of a moving oil tanker and blocking a terminal within weeks. . “It was terrifying,” he said.

But after two and a half weeks of sustained activity at the oil terminal, tensions began to emerge. Oil companies and local councils have obtained injunctions banning protests at terminals, allowing police to act more quickly. In less than two weeks, supporters of the group had him arrested nearly 1,000 times.

A few days later, Just Stop Oil announced it was suspending its activities. Within a week, they returned to protesting at the oil terminal, but the police were more prepared and were able to contain the chaos. The campaign entered a new phase as more activists appeared in court. Activists took part in targeted actions against art galleries and sporting events, while others took part in civil protests in court.

Since its inception, Just Stop Oil has also been heavily funded. In addition to the ongoing crowdfunding, Dale Vince, the billionaire founder of green energy company Ecotricity, said he has donated his £10,000 to them. An even greater quantity came from the United States. The Climate Emergency Fund, a charity founded by Eileen Getty, has donated “hundreds of thousands” to them, its director told The Guardian.

This combination of fundraising and activist commitment has allowed Just Stop Oil to build a sophisticated activist operation with funds to feed, house and transport activists. This organization has a strategy team that creates the entire campaign. There is always a mobilization at work trying to recruit recruits. The legal team helps activists navigate the legal process once prosecutions begin, and also help raise funds to pay fines. At a very direct level, volunteers are mobilized to meet activists released from police stations.

“So whenever people go out after being arrested, there’s always someone there hugging them and drinking tea, and that’s really important,” said De Koning. “So we’re trying to get everyone to support us as much as we can.”

Infrastructure is needed to support activists through their difficult experiences in the prison system. So far, after an estimated 1,600 supporters have been arrested, 79 people were sent to prisonActions taken at Just Stop Oil, including remand. Seven people are currently in prison.

As summer approached, Just Stop Oil curtailed its actions, instead staging small-scale headline-grabbing protests at places like the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and in art galleries around the country. , In October, talks began for the return to the streets, Jeremy Corbyn’s Peace and Justice Project.

“The idea this summer was to mobilize and recruit as many people as possible for October so that this sustained activity could continue for as long as possible. It’s also to give some people a rest afterward,” said De Koning.

The agenda has also evolved. Ending new oil and gas projects remains a major demand, but activists are now calling for public transport subsidies, new taxes on large pollutants, and basic energy for all. I’m looking for

Heating and Food: Can Cost of Living and Climate Change Protesters Join Forces? – Video

“There are many other issues with this, all interrelated,” said De Koning. “And especially when we are dealing with the cost of living crisis that we are currently dealing with, it is very important to have these demands that serve both the climate crisis and the cost of living crisis.”

Oskar Berglund, a political scientist at the University of Bristol who studies social movements, said Just Stop Oil was decidedly more political than previous radical environmental protest groups. Part of the reason, he said, is that “they see conflict.”

“They see enemies primarily in the fossil fuel industry, not just in the fossil fuel industry.” But the fact is that there is a conflict here. [That] Some people are pushing this, some institutions are causing climate change. ”

This could be seen in the XR, which explicitly called for a broader coalition to deal with the emergency affecting everyone, and Insulate Britain, whose aggressive calls for programs to insulate homes failed to identify the bad guys. I am drawing a line with.

But Just Stop Oil’s return to the busy streets of the big city also brings new enemies. On Thursday morning, a passerby denounced the activists and asked how he thought disrupting people’s commutes would bring about structural change.

On Friday, National Gallery visitors gasped when Just Stop Oil supporters threw tomato soup at Van Gogh’s sunflowers.

“They may be trying to make people think about the problem, but in the end it just really annoys and angers people,” said a witness who declined to give his name. The typical thoughtless person who doesn’t think about the bigger issues of the planet isn’t the type who walks around the National Gallery.”

Even more intense was the social media backlash in which activists were accused of being “idiots,” “idiots,” or “punks.” “Ridiculous – this is no way to protest!” Former tennis player’s tweet Martina Navratilova.

Roger Hallam
Roger Hallam, the social movement strategist behind XR and Insulate Britain, is also considered influential in Just Stop Oil. Photo: Ollie Millington/Getty Images

Meanwhile, the government has passed new laws in a clear attempt to curb their protests. The Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Act passed this year makes new crimes such as blocking roads and national infrastructure, as well as the statutory offense of deliberately targeting activists for public nuisance.

More coming. The public order bill currently before Congress includes a new crime called “locking on” that allows demonstrators to stick to something and not be able to remove it, and he could be sentenced to up to 51 weeks in prison. be imposed. A proposed serious anti-disturbance order would bar a range of activists from participating in protests.

Just Stop Oil has also been criticized by activist circles. Its core strategy of taking destructive actions to get arrested in hopes of somehow thwarting the justice system is unrealistic and naive to the repressive potential of the state. has been criticized.

It has also been criticized for excluding people of color and other marginalized communities, and personal and community experiences with systemic racism in police and legal systems discourage them from participating. I’m hesitating.

But at St George’s Circus, not everyone was critical. Many passers-by thanked the protesters for their actions. Mary, 56, stood on one side of one blockade and watched police search protesters’ bags, she said, and was happy to see protests in her neighborhood.

“Superb location: in the high profile Zone 1, one of the most polluted areas in London,” she said. “Working-class families need to be aware of what is happening with fossil fuels.

“Anything that raises awareness is important, so I’m happy to see this here today.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/15/it-was-terrifying-stop-oil-activists-on-the-new-battle-against-fossil-fuel ‘It was terrifying’: New battle against fossil fuels to stop oil activists | Just stop the oil

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