Just Stop Oil has recently burst onto the climate activism scene with a series of high-profile stunts. So who are Just Stop Oil and what are they protesting about?
Just Stop Oil is coalition of groups working together to ensure the Government commits to halting new fossil fuel licensing and production.
Their activism started in February 2022 with a letter delivered to Boris Johnson. This letter set out the risks the world is facing due to the rising global temperatures caused by man-made climate change. The letter then went on to offer the Briitish Prime Minister an ultimatum
“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.”
Unsurprisingly the British Government did not meet the demands. So, true to their word Just Stop Oil has begun to intervene by conducting a series of high-profile protests. They started by storming the red carpet at the BAFTAS, followed by a Just Stop Oil protester locking his neck to the goal post during a premier league football match. Just Stop Oil has gone on to block and disrupt multiple oil delivery depots. Causing disruption and fuel shortages in petrol stations in southern England. You can see videos from some of these demonstrations here.
By taking part in these protests Just Stop Oil activists are risking arrest and even prison sentences but they vow to go on anyway. So what leads them to take such personal risks? Well, the latest climate report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes for some grim reading. It says 3.5 billion people are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Half of the population of the world will face water shortages at some point each year. Half a million people more are at risk of flooding each year and a billion people who live on the coast will be impacted by rising sea levels by 2050. It's clear that inaction on this issue will have devastating impacts on people all over the world. It's for this reason that Just Stop Oil activists are risking their own personal freedom to try and encourage change with their protests. If you would like to check out the report for yourself you can here.
But does this type of activism work? Recently ‘Insulate Britain’ another climate change activist group caused a stir by blocking motorways around England, glueing themselves to the road causing disruption to commuters. These tactics were controversial and received a lot of criticism with polls showing a majority disagreeing with the tactics and people stating they thought this actually hindered the cause. Many of the insulate Britain protesters were arrested and sent to prison for their actions. The organisation has now been quiet for a while and there has been no progress made with their demands to insulate Britain's homes better. Will Just Stop Oil have more success and encourage the Government to take the action they demand? Only time will tell. Despite the criticism these protesters face, I believe if governments continue to drag their feet on the action needed to prevent climate change it will be them who will be judged most harshly by future generations, not the climate activists fighting for change.