Can we Just Stop Oil?

| 22nd February 2022 |
Campaigners are pledging to go to prison, if necessary, for blocking oil refineries up and down the country this spring as part of the Just Stop Oil campaign.

They are torching the Paris Agreement, and with it our future. It is a terrible betrayal.

Just Stop Oil - the campaign to stop all new fossil fuel exploration in the UK - is coalescing around several activist groups and trades unions, including XR and Insulate Britain.

Campaigners are pledging to go to prison, if necessary, for blocking oil refineries up and down the country. They hope to tap into the outrage of ordinary working people that even in 2022 the UK Government is still intent on lining the pockets of rich multinational business people in the oil, gas and coal industries. Just Stop Oil is hosting a national online talk titled Our Responsibilities every Sunday at 4pm. 

Louis McKechnie, 21, went to jail as part of Insulate Britain last year and is back to fight for more. “We know what needs to be done, it’s simple, Just Stop Oil. Right now. They are doing the opposite," he told The Ecologist.

Intervene

"Just last year our prime minister told young people that our future is being stolen before our eyes, and that we have every right to be angry with those who aren’t doing enough to stop it. He also said that his government wants to move beyond hydrocarbons completely and do it as fast as possible. 

“But right now, he and his government are licensing new fossil fuel projects and failing to implement policies to cut carbon emissions. They are torching the Paris Agreement, and with it our future. It is a terrible betrayal.”

Hannah Hunt, 23, from Brighton, also from Just Stop Oil, added: “To have an even chance of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C in line with the Paris Agreement temperature target there can be no more investment in new fossil fuel supply projects.

They are torching the Paris Agreement, and with it our future. It is a terrible betrayal.

“Just Stop Oil is demanding that the UK government makes a statement that it will immediately halt all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK.

“If you do not provide such assurance by March 14th, 2022, it will be our duty to intervene – to prevent the ultimate crime against our country, humanity and life on earth.”

Insulating

Thousands of people from across the country will be taking action to force the government to halt any new oil developments during this March and April. Many have already signed up to take non-violent direct action against key oil infrastructure.

Activists from all political shades will be putting aside their differences and working towards this single goal, with the overview that if successful it will embolden future climate campaigns and galvanise more people into action.

These fights for social and climate justice are inextricably linked. Winning a concession on 'no more fossil fuel exploration' would give the left and environment movement a victory in an increasingly febrile protest arena peopled successfully by the far right.

The Just Stop Oil campaign is a student-led affair but is working with members of Insulate Britain who are ready to take to the roads again.

The message that insulating social housing would help lower the rate of deaths caused by fuel poverty over the winter from the current 80 every day arguably got lost during a period of actions by Insulate Britain between September and November 2021.

Tipping points

The demand this time is for the government to make a statement that it will immediately halt all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development, and production of fossil fuels in the UK. 

As soon as there is a credible and constructive response, as agreed by the Just Stop Oil negotiation team, the disruption will end. 

The  plan to blockade most of the UK’s oil infrastructure sites is shifting from Insulate Britain's method of targeting the public to disrupting industry instead.

A sustained campaign will cause significant economic disruption which JSO campaigners state is justified by the climate crisis and the government’s wilful negligence in the face of irrefutable scientific evidence.

The science on fossil fuel combustion is compelling. All leading earth scientists agree that fossil fuel burning must stop immediately to avoid cascading, domino effect, tipping points. This includes Professor Tim Lenton, the director of Global Systems Institute at Exeter University, Professor James G Anderson of the departments of chemistry, earth and planetary sciences at Harvard, Professor Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Professor Sir David King, founder and chair of the Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge.

Historical

Mobilising as many as 2,500 people in nonviolent direct action will once again influence the public discourse. This time the focus is on oil specifically and the destructive economic system generally where the profits paid out to shareholders by Shell and BP is £15bn a year - the same amount as the annual costs to households from raising the energy price cap.

The co-operative basis for thinking behind Just Stop Oil is that the campaign’s success depends on NGOs and civil society institutions participating in material civil disruption. 

The analysis published by the group suggests that in successful historical moments of mass societal change the pivotal moment is when the ecology of change-makers coheres around mass generalised disruption. 

This Author     

Jan Goodey is an environmental journalist who contributes regularly to the Resurgence & The Ecologist.

Just Stop Oil is hosting a national online talk titled Our Responsibilities every Sunday at 4pm. 

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