Just Stop Oil protester at Navigator terminal
Just Stop Oil (JSO) has said it will suspend its direct actions against fuel distribution for a week in the hope that the UK Government will act on its demands. It has, however, told Prime Minister Boris Johnson that its members will escalate their disruptive protests “if you do not fulfil your duty to the people”. Climate activists from the group — which includes members of Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain, the latter from which 12 people appear in court today — have targeted oil terminals and oil tankers across the UK for nearly three weeks.
While the Government has said that the protests are minor, widespread reports of petrol station forecourts running dry suggest otherwise.
JSO’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 jailed.
Express.co.uk spoke to one of the group’s activists, Hannah Hunt, a 23-year-old student, who said the group’s disruptive direct action was necessary in order to alert the Government and the nation to the incoming climate catastrophes.
She argued that the Government, by continuing to allow oil and gas companies to explore new sources and extract fossil fuels, was complicit in the death of the world’s children.
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Ms Hunt said: “As a 23-year-old, this isn’t what I want to spend my time doing. I have friends, I have plans, I have a degree I want to finish.
“But direct action is our only choice left if we’re to prevent an imminent climate catastrophe.
“There is a need to cause disruption when the Government is silent, which is in itself complicit in the death of our children, and supports the industries that will kill millions.
“So yes, while it’s disruptive, none of this disruption would be necessary if the Government was taking the actions that they have been elected to do.”
Much of JSO’s work, while building on previous efforts by Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain, is in response to a recent report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which concluded that we are currently living through a “now or never” scenario to stop catastrophic global warming.
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Scientists writing in the report said the world can still hope to stave off the worst ravages of climate breakdown, but that governments must act now to transition to a low-carbon economy and society.
They added that the final cost of doing so will be minimal — amounting to just a few percent of GDP by mid-century — but that it will require a massive effort by governments, businesses and individuals.
But the paper’s immediacy was chilling: the chances are narrow and the world is failing to make the changes needed.
Unless policies and actions are urgently strengthened, it said temperatures will soar to more than 3℃ — an event that would result in catastrophic consequences.
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Jim Skea, a professor at Imperial College London and co-chair of the working group behind the report, said: “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5℃.
“Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”
Neil Rothnie, 69, a retired offshore oil and gas worker from Glasgow and a JSO activist, referenced the report while speaking to Express.co.uk.
He said: “Remember this: this action is limited in time, the kind of destruction that we’re drawing attention to, we’re amplifying an alarm here, and the alarm is coming from the IPCC and the IEA (International Energy Agency).
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They’re telling us that unless we stop oil soon we’re going to miss 1.5℃ cap, and so they’re talking about a significant temperature increase globally.
“That is devastating: that means in some areas you’ll have huge increases in temperature, three degrees is the average, but that includes vast regions, from the middle of the Pacific Ocean to the middle of Africa.
Meanwhile, a letter addressed to Mr Johnson from JSO read out at Downing Street this week said: “The bill for oil and gas is already being paid by millions around the world, in the global south, and can now also be seen in blood and suffering in Ukraine.
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“The truth is that this is the price we are all going to pay for allowing the grip of oil to continue its hold on us.
“This cost, the horror of war in Europe, must not be used as a pretext to advance an even greater tragedy — that of continuing to invest in new fossil fuel extraction, for which there is no popular support.”