Protests around the country have seen thousands march against record energy price rises while climate change activists target the country’s fossil fuel infrastructure.
Protestors in Cardiff and Birmingham joined those in central London, marching on Downing Street to voice their alarm at the cost of living crisis – exacerbated by Friday’s 54% increase to the energy price cap. That has added £700 to an average household energy bill taking it to £1,971 per year. Another record rise is expected in October when bills could top £2,600.
“Public outrage over the cost of living crisis is growing fast, and our response is gaining momentum,” said a spokesperson for People’s Assembly Against Austerity, who organised the protests.
The government has announced a £200 loan – available from October and to be repaid – to help with the rising bills. Labour has called for a windfall tax on energy companies. While UK bills have soared and are forecast to spike again, France has capped its energy bill rises to just 4%.
Boris Johnson’s long awaited energy security strategy is already weeks overdue and his government’s long-term plan for the country seems to have been derailed by Russia’s war with Ukraine.
Energy from renewables will be an important part of the government’s plan when it is finally published but a massive –and controversial – expansion of the UK’s nuclear energy sector is also expected.
More controversy will be raised by expanding fossil fuel projects for UK energy and Johnson’s government is looking increasingly likely to announce a fracking-ban U-turn, which will dismay environmentalists even further.
More than 100 arrests at Just Stop Oil protests
Climate change protestors began blocking oil terminals near Birmingham, Southampton and London yesterday, with activists gluing themselves to roads and climbing on top of tankers to protest against new UK licences for fossil fuels.
This morning (April 2) Just Stop Oil activists blocked terminals in Essex and access to the Titan truck Park. Some have accessed tunnels around the Grays and Navigator oil terminals and the Independent reports that this action has closed “the main and emergency access roads to the oil terminals”.
Ten fuel sites around the country have been targeted by climate change protestors. Police have so far made 83 arrests at the blockades in Essex, 14 in Surrey and six in Birmingham for offences including obstructing the highway, criminal damage and aggravated trespass. Police from “at least” five different forces have been deployed and ExxonMobil UK said it has closed three of its terminals.
Just Stop Oil are demanding that Boris Johnson’s government does not grant any new licences for fossil fuel projects and have vowed to continue their campaign to disrupt the UK’s oil and gas infrastructure.
Members of the group have recently zip-tied themselves to goal-posts during televised Premier League football matches. Louis McKecknie did so at a recent Everton match and the 21-year-old said: “I don’t want to be doing this but our genocidal government gives me no choice. They know that oil is funding Putin’s war and pushing millions of people into fuel poverty while energy companies reap billions in profits.
“They know that to allow more oil and gas extraction in the UK is suicidal and will accelerate global heating.
“It means millions dying of heat stress, losing their homes or having to fight for food. This is the future for my generation, I stop when oil stops.”
The new tactics portray a shift in Just Stop Oil’s campaign from civil disobedience to civil resistance – not just “pointing out what the government should or shouldn’t be doing [but instead] actively stopping government doing what they shouldn’t be,” an activist told the Guardian.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) said it supports Just Stop Oil’s campaign and encouraged its members to join it. XR have planned a new wave of protests against the UK’s fossil fuel infrastructure beginning on April 9.