About 35 supporters of the Just Stop Oil campaign staged blockades at the Cobham services in Surrey and the Clacket Lane services in Kent, both on the M25, smashing the display glass on petrol pumps with hammers and defacing them with spray paint.
The action against new fossil fuel targets came after the companies controlling the fuel terminals that had previously been targeted obtained civil injunctions banning protests at their sites.
The activists struck at the two motorway services at 7am. A video from one site showed a campaigner using a small window-breaking hammer to smash the glass on one pump, and spraying the broken dial with orange spray paint.
Ten more arrests have been made after a protest outside a giant Midland oil terminal today. It was the second demonstration in two days at the Kingsbury depot, near Tamworth.
Activists stood and held placards outside the UK’s largest inland oil depot on April 27. According to protesters, they were arrested “pretty swiftly”.
Yesterday, April 26, some 16 people were taken into custody for blocking the entrance to the site. Activists on the ground told BirminghamLive it was the first action since they wrote to Boris Johnson demanding a halt to all future licensing and consent for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK.
Campaigners from a group called ‘Axe Drax’ covered the headquarters of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy with paint using a fire extinguisher.
According to the group’s social media account, they want to pressure the government into cutting ties with the Drax Group.
It’s part a string of protests targeting the company, which operate a biomass fuel station in North Yorkshire.
Charlie Gardner, University of Kent; Emily Cox, Cardiff University, and Stuart Capstick, Cardiff University
One recent Wednesday, while most scientists around the world were carrying out their research, we stepped away from our day jobs to engage in a more direct form of communication.
Along with more than 20 others from Scientists for Extinction Rebellion and assisted in our efforts by Doctors for Extinction Rebellion, we pasted scientific papers to the UK government’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). A group of us glued ourselves to the building, and nine scientists were arrested.
This kind of action may seem extreme for a scientist, but these are no ordinary times. As most members of the UK public now recognise, addressing the climate crisis requires drastic changes across society. In 2019, the UK parliament itself declared a climate emergency – and in an emergency, one must take urgent action.
Seemingly endless academic papers and reports highlight the need for the immediate and rapid decarbonisation of the global economy if we are to avert climate change so serious that it risks the collapse of human civilisation. The International Energy Agency, a respected policy advisory body to countries around the world, warned in 2021 that “if governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated that “it is time for us to listen to the warnings of the scientists” on the climate emergency. But despite this, the UK government is choosing not to wind down the fossil fuel industry, but instead to expand it.
The government recently published its energy security strategy. However, rather than focusing on home insulation, energy efficiency and onshore wind as most experts suggest, the strategy promotes the expansion of oil and gas production.
Such measures do very little to address the pressing issues of rising fuel bills or heavy imports of Russian oil and coal. And as a self-proclaimed leader in global climate action, the UK’s doubling down on fossil fuels also sends a dangerous message to the rest of the world.
Evidence alone is easily ignored
In a choice between fossil fuels and a liveable planet, the government has chosen oil and gas. For scientists who have dedicated their lives to research, this is hard to take. Many of us do our work in the belief that, if we provide scientific information to decision-makers, they will use it to make wise decisions in the public interest.
Yet the global response to the climate crisis, despite decades of increasingly dire warnings, shows this to be naive. The reason is as simple as it is obvious: governments don’t respond to science on these matters, but to the corporate interests that invest so heavily in political donations and lobbying.
Scientists must face a difficult truth that doesn’t come easily to those of us who are most comfortable working diligently on experiments and journal articles: evidence alone, even if expertly communicated, is very easily ignored by those that do not wish to hear it.
If we are to help bring about the transition away from fossil fuels that the world so urgently needs, we are going to have to become much harder to ignore. This does not mean disregarding the evidence or abandoning our integrity: quite the opposite. We must treat the scientific warnings on the climate crisis with the seriousness that they deserve.
Become hard to ignore
History suggests that one of the most powerful ways to become hard to ignore – and one of the few options available to those who do not have deep pockets or the ear of politicians – may be through nonviolent civil disobedience, the refusal to obey certain laws in order to bring public and media attention to an unjust situation.
From universal suffrage to civil rights for people of colour and action on the Aids pandemic, many of the most progressive social changes of the 20th century were brought about in this way. Many would likely agree that such actions are morally justified in a planetary emergency.
The recent blossoming of environmental civil disobedience movements around the world, led by Extinction Rebellion and the Greta Thunberg-inspired youth strikes, has been hugely influential in changing the global conversation on climate. These movements have been linked to an unprecedented surge of public concern and awareness about the climate crisis.
The scientists arrested on that Wednesday included an expert in energy policy, an air pollution specialist, three ecologists and two psychologists, across all career stages from junior researchers to established professors. Some work on the planetary crisis itself, others on our societal responses to it, but none of us took our actions lightly.
Our understanding of our planetary peril obliges us to take action to sound the alarm, even if it means risking our civil liberties. And we are not alone. On April 6 more than 1,200 scientists in 26 countries participated in a global Scientist Rebellion, which included pasting scientific papers to the UK headquarters of oil giant Shell.
Civil disobedience doesn’t always need a particular target to be effective, because the main objective is to ring the alarm by generating media and wider public attention. Extinction Rebellion protests, for example, has targeted fossil fuel infrastructure, media and finance institutions and airports used by private jets, in addition to the general disruption caused by roadblocks.
But we went to BEIS because, as the government department responsible for climate change, it should be leading the transition away from fossil fuels. Instead, through enabling and promoting new fossil fuel extraction, it is doing the opposite.
Recent acts of law-breaking by scientists may seem radical, but the world’s most senior diplomat disagrees. On the release of the IPCC’s latest report, the UN Secretary General António Guterres said: “Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals. But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels.”
He could not have said it more clearly: while we scientists may have been breaking the law, it is the government that’s placing us all in danger.
Charlie Gardner, Associate Senior Lecturer, Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent; Emily Cox, Research Associate, Environmental Policy, Cardiff University, and Stuart Capstick, Senior Research Fellow in Psychology, Cardiff University
A selection of climate protest news articles. Insulate Britain are acting on their policy that UK courts are regarded as a ‘site of civil resistance’
Three members of Insulate Britain have disrupted a magistrates court trial, gluing their hands to court furniture and paying tribute to the environmental activist who died after setting himself on fire outside the US supreme court.
Dr Diana Warner, a retired GP from Bristol, had been due to face trial at Stratford magistrates court on a charge of causing a public nuisance by obstructing junction 14 of the M25 on 27 September last year.
But when she entered the dock, fellow Insulate Britain members Liam Norton and Ana Heyatawin followed her into the court, began filming and broadcasting with their phones, and glued themselves to the furniture.
A number of activists have been arrested after breaching an injunction outside an oil terminal in Tamworth.
Members of the Just Stop Oil group blocked access to the Kingsbury Oil Terminal from 07:30 BST on Tuesday.
A new High Court injunction in the area grants police “enhanced powers to prevent and disrupt any unlawful activity”.
Warwickshire Police said it had detained 16 people following the demonstration.
dizzy: If you count the people in the article photographs, it looks very close to 16 so we might assume that they’ve all been arrested which is probably the protesters’ expectation and intention
This evening, Mr Gardner urged protesters not to return. He said: “The High Court injunction remains in place. I would strongly advise against people coming to Kingsbury to conduct any protest activity.
“Although the force respects the right to a peaceful protest, we will always take action against anyone found to be acting outside of the law. If you’re believed to be in breach of the order, officers will arrest you and you will be taken into police custody until appearing before the courts.”
Surge in public concern over environment and climate linked to rise in protest activity, research shows
“Protest can be predicted by prior levels of public attention to the environment,” said Ms Kirby, “but a surge in protest levels also leads to increased public attention in the following months”.
“This effect is largely driven by recent protest, which indicates it played a role in recent rise in public concern.”
The research also suggests that the sheer number of people involved in recent protests has a bigger impact on raising concerns about the environment than protesting methods.
A selection of climate protest news – apologies that I’m inevitably missing many.
- Earth Day on Friday saw many protests in North and South America including one protester who took his own life through self-immolation.
- Insulate Britain declares UK courts ‘ “a site of non-violent civil resistance”, saying the UK legal system no longer has any legitimacy.’
- A very broad injunction granted against fuel protests in Essex.
A US climate activist has died after he set himself on fire outside the US supreme court building in Washington.
On Sunday, Kritee Kanko, a Boulder-based climate scientist and Zen Buddhist priest, said Bruce was a friend and member of her Buddhist community, who had been planning the self-immolation for “at least one year”.
“This act is not suicide. This is a deeply fearless act of compassion to bring attention to climate crisis,” Kanko said in a tweet.
In a subsequent interview with the New York Times, Kanko said she could not be certain about Bruce’s intentions. She told the newspaper that “people are being driven to extreme amounts of climate grief and despair” and that “what I do not want to happen is that young people start thinking about self-immolation”.
In an open letter to the UK judiciary, the group wrote: “We understand that this is a difficult time for the UK judiciary and we trust that you will connect to our shared humanity as we come to ask you for help…
“If a government insists on destroying the nation state, then that government is involved in tyranny. It is involved in an act of criminality of the highest order.
“It becomes the duty of all people of conscience to oppose that tyranny as an act of self-defence.
“The criminalisation by the judiciary of ordinary people attempting to preserve lives and the very fabric of our society is abhorrent.
An injunction to prevent people protesting at oil terminals and outside petrol stations has been granted at the High Court.
The injunction applies to all petrol station forecourts in the county as well as several oil terminals.
Activists have staged protests across the county for several weeks.
Protest group Just Stop Oil wants the government to halt new oil and gas projects.
Earlier this month leading climate scientists issued their landmark report on climate solutions, directly to world governments, saying it’s “now or never” if we are to meet the Paris Agreement 1.5°C warming limit.
And the response?
Climate scientists have had enough
A growing number of scientists have had enough, feeling obliged to step out of their labs and onto the streets to demand greater action. Following the release of the IPCC report, about 1000 scientists and academics in 25 countries took part in demonstrations, urging governments to act on the science. In the UK, a group of scientists glued scientific papers – and their own hands – to the windows of the government department responsible for energy, protesting the government plans for licensing of new oil and gas fields.
It occurs to me that this could be a dangerous time for politicians and others failing to address the climate crisis. We have the most recent IPCC report identifying necessary action including an immediate stop to all new fossil fuel use and it’s ignored. Climate change is seen and experienced, it’s beyond controlling the narrative. The people that have warned of the growing crisis will be gaining power and influence, [ed: in a few years … ] we may well have laws that are applied retrospectively – and why shouldn’t they be? [ed: Why shouldn’t they be held responsible for their actions or – potentially recognised as criminal – neglect? Had the power to address severe climate destuction but chose not to …]
U.S. President Joe Biden’s reported plan to protect old-growth forests—which help combat global temperature rise by storing planet-heating carbon—is “grossly inadequate,” one climate advocacy group said Thursday.
Biden will mark Earth Day in Seattle on Friday with an executive order on the issue, according to The Washington Post, which cited five unnamed sources briefed on the plan.
Responding in a statement, Food & Water Watch national organizing manager Thomas Meyer declared that “President Biden seems to think we’re celebrating the first Earth Day in 1970, rather than in [the] depths of the climate crisis in 2022.”
“Protecting forests without addressing the root cause of the climate crisis, namely the continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels, will do very little to slow global warming,” he warned.
“The president has many effective tools at his disposal to address the climate and public health impacts of fossil fuels in a serious way,” Meyer added. “He should start by following through on his pledge to end fracking on public lands and stop offshore drilling, and directing his agencies to reject all new fossil fuel infrastructure.”
Over 20 advocacy organizations are planning a nationwide “Fight for Our Future” mobilization for Saturday to demand climate action from the Biden administration and Congress.
On the heels of Earth Day, demonstrators plan to gather in Washington, D.C., and communities across the United States to reiterate the necessity of pursuing bold policies to combat the fossil-fueled planetary emergency, citing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released earlier this month.
The organizing comes not only in the midst of the climate emergency but also as Russia’s war on Ukraine and price gouging by fossil fuel giants—in the third year of the Covid-19 pandemic—drive up the cost of gas.
Sierra Club president Ramon Cruz in a statement that “in this unprecedented moment of climate crisis, rising prices, energy insecurity, and racial and environmental injustice, it’s vital that our leaders fight to establish a livable, just, and healthy planet for all.”
“The latest IPCC report made clear that we not only have an imperative to address the climate crisis, but also the means to do so—doing so just requires the political will to make transformational investments at the scale and speed the crisis demands,” he added. “There’s a clear path forward for critical investments in climate, care, jobs, and justice, and Congress must seize this crucial opportunity to truly ensure the future we all deserve.”
Just Stop Oil has said it will suspend its direct actions against fuel distribution for a week, but has told the prime minister its members will escalate their disruptive protests “if you do not fulfil your duty to the people”.
The government and petrol retailers have attempted to downplay the scale of the disruption to fuel deliveries. But there have been widespread reports of petrol station forecourts running dry in various parts of the country.
Just Stop Oil’s activists have vowed to continue their campaign until the government agrees to a ban on new oil and gas extraction projects, or until they are all jailed.
Extinction Rebellion and Palestine Action activists blockade entrance of Israeli arms firm’s London HQ (Yesterday)
CLIMATE activists today targeted the London HQ of Israel’s largest private arms firm in protest at “brutal” attacks on al-Aqsa mosque by Israeli forces in recent days.
Members of the youth branch of Extinction Rebellion teamed up with the Palestine Action group to blockade the entrance of Elbit Systems’ offices in Holborn on Wednesday morning.
The groups said the action, which saw activists lock on to the entrance of the building at 77 Kingsway Road and hurl red paint across the facade, forced the offices to shut for the day.
Palestine Action said the activists wanted to show solidarity with Palestinian worshippers during Ramadan after Israeli forces launched a series of raids on the al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem, injuring dozens of Palestinians.
Members of Extinction Rebellion (XR) marked Tax Day with the “No Wars, No Warming” demonstration outside a federal building in NYC where various agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), have offices.
Demonstrators perched on top of and locked themselves to two 15-foot tripods installed near the Charging Bull sculpture to block traffic on Broadway, according to organizers. Nine activists were arrested.
“We recognize that the people who are most often placed in harm’s way from armed conflict are also the people who have and will continue to face the brunt of the climate crisis,” says the XR event webpage. “In this moment, after two years of Covid-19, our tax money should be funding social services that benefit the communities most impacted by the climate crisis and most affected by decades of systemic underfunding.”