Socialist Worker

Scottish climate activists protest against system rigged for oil companies

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2688

Activists locked themselves to oil barrels and XRs big purple boat in the latest

Activists locked themselves to oil barrels and XR's big purple boat in the latest (Pic: XR Scotland)


Climate rebels in Aberdeen positioned themselves on oil firm Shell’s doorstep on Thursday to “point the finger at people who are responsible” for climate catastrophe.

Politics student Gil Anderson was locked to an oil barrel blocking one of the entrances to the Shell headquarters building when he spoke to Socialist Worker. He blasted Shell and companies like it who are “responsible for continuing to extract oil which is contributing to bringing about our extinction and the death of the planet”.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) Scotland is coming to the end of its fortnight-long “Rig Rebellion 2.0” targeted at the oil and gas firms that are driving ecological chaos.

On Thursday activists locked themselves to oil barrels and XR’s big purple boat in the latest phase of the rebellion.

Annie Lane is based in Glasgow, but had travelled to Aberdeen to take part in the day’s action. “Shell wants us to think that if we make individual changes then climate change will be solved,” she said.

“But if it continues to push the burning of fossil fuels there’s no hope of stopping the climate crisis.”

Other actions during the rebellion saw rebels scale an oil rig off the coast of Dundee and hold protests outside petrol stations.

The phase of action has three demands for the fossil fuel industry and the Scottish government.

Transition 

XR wants them to “tell the truth” and “act now” to stop supporting the fossil fuel industry and begin a “just transition” away from it. Rebels are also calling for a legally-binding citizens’ assembly that allows workers and communities in Scotland to direct the process.

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XR’s focus on direct action is bringing new layers of people into political activists.

“There’s been lots of good work from NGOs and locally-based activists. But the only real change that’s ever occurred in general—including environmental activism—is when people take direct action,” said Gil.

“It’s not about just waiting on MPs—we want to show people that it’s within our means to take action ourselves.”

Annie was part of XR’s October’s rebellion in London.

She said her experience of working inside XR was a tonic to the “apathy” often experienced by people coming to terms with the climate threat. “I’ve been concerned about the climate crisis for a long time, but I didn’t know the full science and sheer scale of it,” she said. 

“I didn’t know how many millions of people’s lives it was affecting, particularly in the Global South, which is something that is often not reported on. It pushes you to think ‘I’ve got to be involved in some way’.” 

Retired oil worker Neil Rothnie told Socialist Worker he was inspired to join in partly because of the threat that rapid-onset climate catastrophe posed to his grandchildren. “I’ve got two grandchildren—three years old and five months old—I am deeply concerned about a possible future for them,” he said. 

Neil said that “workers must be at the centre” of the transition away from oil and gas and that there had to be “a massive increase in the renewable energy industry”. “One way or another the oil rigs will end,” he said. “If they end sooner we survive. 

“If they end later it does not bode well.

“The last time there was an energy transition, the miners were shattered—communities were destroyed and families were impoverished.” 

Extinction Rebellion holds regular meetings across Britain. To find your nearest group visit rebellion.earth/act-now/local-groups/
Join the Campaign against Climate Change Scotland public meeting organising for the United Nations climate talks to be held in Glasgow in November. 12 noon—3pm, 1 Feb, Unison, 84 Bell Street, Glasgow, G1 1LQ

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