You might have come across a video on social media of protesters spraying on several prominent buildings in London, from car showrooms & designer clothing stores to even the Home office headquarters in Westminster.
So Who are they? What do they want? And why are they doing that?
Just Stop Oil is a group of environmental activists in the United Kingdom using civil resistance and direct action, demanding the UK government to reverse its support for opening new oil and gas fields in the North Sea and commit to halting new fossil fuel licensing and production.
After its launch in February 2022, the group held a month of oil terminal disruptions across Southern England in April 2022, which garnered criticism for their protest methods.
In October 2022, the group started a months-long protest in London by blocking major roads and bridges in London. Here’s a list of all their protests in just October:
On 14 October, two protesters threw tomato soup at the fourth version of Vincent van Gogh's 1888 work- The Arles Sunflowers, in the National Gallery, and then glued their hands to the wall below the painting.
On 17 October, the group also spray painted the exterior of an Aston Martin showroom and on the same day, two supporters scaled the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, causing its closure which resulted in 6 miles (9.7 km) of congestion on both directions of the bridge. It was only after 36 hours that the protesters agreed to leave the bridge, with both being arrested afterwards. The bridge remained closed for another 6 hours, until it reopened on the evening of 18 October.
After that, the group spray painted the exterior windows of Harrods, smeared cake on King Charles at Madame Tussauds and blocked Picaddily, where more than a dozen were arrested.
And on the last day of the month, activists targeted buildings used by the Home Office, MI5, the Bank of England and News Corp. The targets were chosen because they represent "the four pillars that support and maintain the power of the fossil fuel economy"
So are they right?
Methods followed by Just Stop Oil protesters is similar to that of Insulate Britain who were all over the headlines not too long ago, although Just Stop Oil differs with regard to its targets being also cultural institutions. The group has garnered criticism for their aggressive protest methods, such as blocking roads and vandalism. But that brings us on to the big question --
Should you support them?
While it is true that the group is fighting for a noble cause of tackling climate change, at this point in time, it is crucial for us to take a look at this in the grand scheme of things. Britain is in an economic crisis. There is still a £40bn black hole in Sunak and Hunt’s budget, and the destruction caused by protesters so far has already costed the economy millions in lost revenue.
The best thing for us to do right now is probably to wait for an official statement from a cabinet member, perhaps, from Therese Coffey, the Environment Secretary, which should address the concerns raised by Just Stop Oil protesters and come to an agreement in the best interest of both parties.
References/ Further Reading: