By Sophie Squire and Sam Ord
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Climate activists fight fossil fuels as XR rebellion continues

Extinction Rebellion's latest rebellion has hit London over fossil fuels, as Just Stop Oil activists block terminals
Issue 2800
Extinction Rebellion protesters block Vauxhall bridge in central London

Extinction Rebellion activists blocked Vauxhall bridge in central London for the climate last Sunday (Picture: Extinction Rebellion UK/ Andrea Domeniconi)

It’s right to rebel over environmental collapse and the catastrophic fossil fuel economy, whatever the Tories and Labour Party leaders say. Extinction Rebellion (XR) actions over the last week showed the movement is still on the streets. Over 10,000 people flooded Oxford Street in ­central London last Saturday, marking the first day of the latest climate rebellion.

They held a sit-in that, for a time, defied police attempts to move them. Climate activist Sim, from east London, came to “channel my anger and despair at the current world”. “The more I learn the more it becomes necessary to just do something,” he told Socialist Worker. “I feel less alone today, it’s great to see all these different communities out.”

Sim described the ­situation as “desperate” adding, “We have until 2025 to stop ­burning fossil fuels—how are we going to do it? The politicians need to listen to us but ultimately, we need to ­overthrow their system.” The next day activists blocked Vauxhall and Lambeth bridges across the river Thames in London. Hundreds of protesters stopped traffic, allowing only ambulances and fire engines to pass.

And for over a week XR and Just Stop Oil activists have disrupted 11 major oil terminals. Occupying the Inter Terminal in Grays, Essex, activist Nathan said, “We’re doing this because our government is refusing to act on the climate crisis. We need to have a meaningful statement that we will have no new fossil fuel projects.” Home secretary Priti Patel attacked the ­protesters, ­calling them “selfish, fanatical and frankly dangerous so-called activists”. 

That’s hypocritical rubbish from a government that is wrecking millions of people’s lives with tax rises, inaction over fuel and price surges, and cuts to benefits and pensions. Just Stop Oil said, “Nobody wants to be doing this. Right now millions of people are being plunged into poverty by eye-watering energy bills, the profits from which are being used to fund wars in Ukraine and Yemen.

“The government can end the queues and closures at petrol station forecourts immediately by committing to halt all new oil licences and consents. Ministers have a choice—they can arrest and imprison Just Stop Oil supporters or agree to no new oil and gas. While Just Stop Oil supporters have their liberty the disruption will continue.”

Appallingly, as the police arrested hundreds of activists, Labour called for more repression. Labour leader Keir Starmer said, “The ­government must stop standing idly by and immediately impose injunctions.” As Just Stop Oil blocked fossil fuel infrastructure XR remained on the streets for the third day of their ­rebellion. Several days were also set aside for “outreach.” Monday this week saw activists setting up stalls and camps to talk to people about the climate crisis. 

Activist Freida told Socialist Worker that ­getting the word out as widely as possible and building XR are essential. “A big part of my role has been working on expanding local groups,” she explained. “Recently we’ve been engaging in door-knocking, which I think many people were sceptical about. But I have met people at the ­rebellion who are here today because of it.” 

Freida added that she believes the fuel crisis and war in Ukraine ­highlight the problems with the fossil fuel economy. “I think many ordinary people are watching all of this unfold. More and more they know they can’t trust those in power to do the right thing.” Activist Kim, who had been talking to people on a stall in Hyde Park, central London, added that fossil fuel ­production continues because “wealthy people want to keep lining their pockets.” 

“We can see so clearly that poor people don’t benefit at all with things staying the way they are. That is why we need to convince as many people as possible to join this fight. What’s needed is a very different way of structuring society, so people get a voice. I don’t think we should be satisfied with the democracy we have now.” XR and Just Stop Oil have vowed to continue protests and cause more disruption. They are right to do so—a militant, mass movement is needed more than ever.

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