activism energy politics

What will it take to Just Stop Oil?

“The scientific evidence is unequivocal” said the IPCC co-chair Hans-Otto Pörtner yesterday. “Climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.”

We know by now what concerted global action means: stop burning fossil fuels, which remain the primary source of climate-changing carbon emissions.

And yet, last week business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was proclaiming that we needed both more renewable energy and more production from the North Sea. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said he wants to see more investment in the country’s fossil fuel sector. These ambitions are backed up in policy, with new concessions for drilling being announced.

The International Energy Agency insist that no new oil and gas projects should be announced from 2021. The government’s own climate advisors have warned that new fossil fuels are incompatible with climate targets. And so the government is preparing a set of conditions for whether new drilling projects should be allowed or not. Who has it invited to write the guidelines on the future of the oil and gas industry? The oil and gas industry, obviously.

In other words, the government has no intention of even slowing the production of oil and gas in UK territories, let alone phasing it out. It would rather take the money and risk the ‘liveable future’ that the IPCC tells us is at stake.

It is in this context that the new campaign Just Stop Oil is launching. It’s the same people as Insulate Britain, so you know what to expect – disruption, civil disobedience, direct action, angry drivers and tabloid hysteria. But they have a point.

As their first action, two young people delivered a letter to Boris Johnson. One of them, Louis McKechnie, explained why:

“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. 

“Maybe some of us believed him, because we wanted it to be true. 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.”

Since Boris Johnson told young people that they have a right to be angry, his government is only inviting their action. And they have until March 14th to deliver on Just Stop Oil’s one demand: “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.”

That is a thoroughly reasonable request. I wonder how it has been received.

You can follow Just Stop Oil on Twitter, Instagram, or visit their website for updates. If good sense prevails, no campaign will be necessary and you can unfollow them at your leisure. But somehow I suspect we’ll be hearing more about Just Stop Oil.


  1. I have just pinched your story and put it in an email to my MP (a red wall Tory who usually ignores such stuff). Let’s hope he reads this one and even thinks about it!

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