Climate activists plan direct action against UK oil infrastructure

Just Stop Oil campaign to target petrol stations, fuel depots and refineries to demand end to fossil fuel investment

Activists fronting a new campaign masterminded by Roger Hallam, the strategist behind Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain, have said they are now preparing to move beyond protest and “into civil resistance”.

Two young supporters of Just Stop Oil went to Downing Street on Monday morning, where they delivered an ultimatum to ministers calling for an immediate end to new fossil fuel investments.

“If you do not provide such assurance by 14 March 2022 it will be our duty to intervene – to prevent the ultimate crime against our country, humanity and life on earth,” said the letter, read out at the gates and delivered by hand.

The Guardian understands that the intention is to take direct action against Britain’s oil infrastructure – from petrol stations to fuel depots and refineries.

In a brief speech to reporters, Louis McKechnie, 21, who was recently released from jail for taking part in court injunction-breaking road blockades with Insulate Britain, said: “We know what needs to be done, it’s simple, just stop oil. Right now they are doing the opposite.”

For weeks Hallam and other supporters of the campaign, seen as a successor to Insulate Britain, have been touring universities calling on students to sign up. Unlike Insulate Britain, which was predominantly composed of older activists, including several over 70, Just Stop Oil is intended as a youth-led campaign.

Roger Hallam in Trafalgar Square in July 2020
Roger Hallam, the strategist behind Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain, has masterminded the Just Stop Oil campaign. Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex/Shutterstock

Hallam told students at Glasgow University last month they “had to become revolutionaries” to avert climate disaster. The Guardian understands that hundreds of activists have signed up and said they were willing to be arrested as part of the campaign.

Jess Causby, 25, a supporter of the campaign, said it would involve an escalation of tactics compared with recent environmental protests.

“Just Stop Oil has seen that if we want to really protect ourselves and everything around us then we need to move beyond this protest stuff which people have been doing with Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain, and then we need to move forward into civil resistance,” Causby said.

“What that actually means is stopping pointing out what the government should or shouldn’t be doing [and instead] actively stopping government doing what they shouldn’t be.”

Causby said the campaign had taken inspiration from fuel protests 22 years ago, when hauliers used lorries to blockade oil refineries and fuel depots. She said: “We have been demanding [action on climate change] for years now and we’re continuously disappointed with their empty promises and lack of action. So now we’re taking it into our own hands and we’re going to stop them because we have no choice.”

Activists from the campaign were giving about 20 to 30 talks a week, Causby said.

The Guardian has contacted the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for comment.


Damien Gayle

The GuardianTramp

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