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Just Stop Oil

Just Stop Oil

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Protestors from the climate activist group have glued themselves to roads, smeared cake on a waxwork of King Charles and thrown tomato soup at a Van Gogh painting. Who are the people risking criminal records in the name of their cause?

Singing: When London lies under the ocean, when London lies under the sea, when London lies under the ocean, you’ll take climate change seriously.”

Just Stop Oil Twitter

This is a Just Stop Oil protest… 

There’s a group of around 40 people, of all different ages in London’s Trafalgar Square. They’re holding huge ‘Just Stop Oil’ banners in their trademark orange, and are marching around police officers who have been sent to keep an eye on things. 

The group’s demand is clear: they want the government to immediately halt all new oil and gas projects. And they’re willing to take direct action to achieve their aims. 

This demonstration was one of many.

They’ve also scaled the QEII bridge at the Dartford Crossing, forcing it to close; disrupted Premier League football matches; and smeared cake on the wax statue of King Charles at Madame Tussauds…

But the protest which got the most media attention was when two young women threw cans of tomato soup at Vincent van Gogh’s painting, Sunflowers, which is displayed behind a protective screen at the National Gallery… 

[Just Stop Oil National Gallery protest]

Each time, the protestors involved explain why t   hey’re doing what they’re doing. This woman was filmed as 5 police officers carried her off Waterloo Bridge where she had been protesting…

I’m doing this for my son. The government’s inaction on climate change is a death sentence to us all. The United Nations have said we should have no new oil. Liz Truss wants to open 130 new oil licences, that’s a death sentence to this planet.”

The Sun

All of these demonstrations got huge media attention, putting Just Stop Oil’s message firmly on the agenda. But they also ended in the arrest of the activists involved. So who are the people risking criminal records in the name of their cause? 

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“And here I am, an ordinary person, having to do this? You think I like it? No. This is something I feel we have a duty to do as a citizen of the UK when our government is criminal.”

Just Stop Oil

Just Stop Oil began its direct action in April, but the group didn’t spring up out of nowhere. One of the co-founders of Extinction Rebellion was also there at the start of Just Stop Oil.

“We’re going to force the government to act. And if they do not, we will bring them down & create a fit for purpose democracy. And yes, some may die in the process.”

Extinction Rebellion

Former farmer and veteran environmental campaigner, Roger Hallam, is controversial even amongst eco-activists. He was kicked out of Extinction Rebellion over comments he made about the Holocaust, and published a widely-condemned pamphlet entitled: ‘Advice to Young People as You Face Annihilation’ which he wrote whilst in prison for planning to fly drones over Heathrow.

Whilst it’s unclear how influential he is in the group, we do know that at the beginning of the year he toured university campuses calling on students to join Just Stop Oil. He told them that they had to become “climate revolutionaries.”

Extinction Rebellion included many older, long-time activists, but Just Stop Oil was designed to be a youth movement. A large number of its members are students in their early twenties; many of them have never taken part in protests before and are now risking arrest and a criminal record.

But will using more direct tactics mean the group will get what it wants?

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“A code red for humanity. Tonight we begin with a wakeup call from the United Nations on what they call the unequivocal impact humans are having on our planet.”

ABC News

Just Stop Oil says the climate crisis is already so catastrophic that any action to try to stop the worst effects is justified.

A recent poll for the Cafod aid agency found that around six in 10 people think the UK isn’t doing enough to tackle climate change, but Just Stop Oil’s disruptive tactics have been divisive. 

Here they are being confronted by angry drivers as they sit in the middle of a busy junction in London…

[Sirens] “I’ve got a disabled child, who’s brain dead in my cab and I need to take her to the centre… No I can’t… You’ve made your point, you’ve made your point.”

Evening Standard

Phoebe Plummer was one of the two women who threw soup over Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting. She was asked by BBC’s Newsnight if Just Stop Oil’s controversial tactics were helping or hurting their cause: 

“This isn’t a popularity contest, we’re making change… This is the biggest crisis that humanity has ever faced… Civil resistance is the only change we have left to get the radical change we need in the timescale we have left.”

BBC Newsnight

The group have vowed to continue their disruptive protests until their demands are met. 


This episode was written by Rebecca Moore and mixed by Ella Hill.


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