Climate group Just Stop Oil (JSO) blocked several major roads in central London on Saturday. It marked almost a month of protest and direct action demanding the Tory government agrees to stop all new oil and gas licenses and consents.
Supporters of the group caused traffic to grind to a standstill on Charing Cross, Kennington and Blackfriars roads and Kensington High Street.
Near Leicester Square, a group of activists blocked Charing Cross Road and unfurled JSO banners. Speaking to Socialist Worker as she was arrested, Jane said, “Against all scientific advice and international bodies, including the International Energy Agency, the government is seeking to exploit hundred of new fossil fuel licenses.
“We don’t need any more fossil fuels, we have clean green renewables and that’s where people should be investing. We’ve got eight years of supply and we should be using that time to move away from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are killing us and they’re killing people around the world, we don’t need them. Our government is heading in the wrong direction. I cannot stand by and let that happen.
Rodney, who had come from Bradford in West Yorkshire, told Socialist Worker system change is crucial to stop climate chaos. “This crisis is a crisis caused by capitalism, he said. “It’s the richer countries that have caused this crisis and we need to do something to stop it.
“We need a new economic model and we need to stop inequality. The only way we can stop climate change and change the system is by causing disruption.”
Student Ishaan, who is originally from India, had come across the protest on a day out. “Richer countries are burning the most fossil fuel,” he said. “But it’s poorer ones, especially in the Global South, which will suffer and are already suffering the most from climate change.
“I agree that something needs to be done. We need big changes in the way our system works.”
Throughout the week, JSO has taken part in bold and imaginative actions across London. On Monday two activists threw a cake at the face of a waxwork of fake climate warrior king Charles. Several luxury car dealerships were sprayed with orange paint by supporters of the group. One activist, who sprayed a luxury Bentley dealership, said, “What is worth more, expensive cars or life?
“Why are millions of children in poverty in this country and people are buying SUVs from Bentley for thousands and thousands?“
Other targets were the Rolex luxury watch shop and fossil fuel lobbyists, who have their headquarters at 55 Tufton Street. The address is home to the Global Warming Policy Foundation—which has been described as a climate science denial group.
JSO was also able to hit back at the right wing slur that environmentalists who block roads cause delays to ambulances. The Sun and the Daily Mail newspapers reported that JSO supporters, who shut down the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge last month, prevented ambulances from getting to an accident on the M20 motorway.
But the South East Coast Ambulance Service reported that it had not been delayed in getting to the site of the crash, which was 10 miles away from the bridge.
JSO is set to finish its action in central London at the end of this month but says it will continue using direct action tactics. The group also plans to join the People’s Assembly national demonstration on Saturday of next week.
As JSO took action on the streets of London, students marched in Glasgow to mark one year since the failure of Cop26. Olive, a student in Glasgow, told Socialist Worker that she marched to protest against “the horrific climate injustice we face.”
“I went down to the demonstration today to march alongside the hundreds of students, workers, strikers and families,” said Olive. “We made sure to show solidarity with strikes and brought our ‘students support strikes’ banner.
“We marched from Kelvingrove Park to George Square demanding climate justice now. There was a lot of anger directed at the Tories’ inaction and prioritisation of profit over people. At the closing rally speakers raised issues of climate refugees, the fight against the Rosebank oil and gas field, and most importantly, they were clear to say that people hold the power.”
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