What is Just Stop Oil? Climate-change activists continue to protest in London

·4-min read
What is Just Stop Oil? Climate-change activists continue to protest in London

In recent weeks, barely a day has passed when Just Stop Oil haven’t hit the headlines with their attention-grabbing climate change protests.

From throwing orange powder over a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show to invading the pitch during the English Premiership Rugy Final at Twickenham, their high-profile direct action has landed activists in court and even in jail.

On Wednesday, a Met Police officer was filmed dragging a Just Stop Oil protester along a west London road during a demonstration.

On the same day, a 73-year-old woman in a wheelchair and an 81-year-old priest were arrested at a protest in Parliament Square.

Ten activists with the eco group were detained after refusing to leave the road and stop slow marching at around 11am.

While Just Stop Oil’s stunts have evoked plenty of anger from the public — as several of their protests have disrupted roads and interrupted journeys to matches, airports, and other destinations — others believe they should be getting more support for their causes.

From what they’re hoping to achieve to when the group was founded, here’s everything you need to know about the group.

What is Just Stop Oil?

Just Stop Oil was founded in April 2022 and the group has staged several protests since.

The climate-activist organisation is formed of several groups, with activists from Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain at the helm.

Its website states: “Just Stop Oil is a coalition of groups working together to ensure the Government commits to halting new fossil-fuel licensing and production.”

The group describes itself as non-hierarchical, with activists in the group operating in autonomous blocs that share resources but have no formal leadership.

What are Just Stop Oil’s goals?

While the name is a key giveaway, Just Stop Oil has a number of objectives to put an end to new licensing and “consents for the exploration, development, and production of fossil fuels in the UK”.

The group is also demanding that the Government stops all new oil and gas projects.

The Government plans to license more than 100 new oil and gas projects by 2025.

The website says: “Allowing the extraction of new oil and gas resources in the UK is an obscene and genocidal policy that will kill our children and condemn humanity to oblivion. It just has to stop.

“If we continue down our current path, it will destroy families and communities. We will face the starvation and the slaughter of billions of the poor — and the utter betrayal of our children and their future.

“The choice: rapid transition to a low-energy and low-carbon world, or social collapse. We can do it now, in an orderly manner — creating millions of proper skilled jobs and protecting the rights of workers in sunset industries — or we wait for the unavoidable collapse.”

As well as calling for an end to fossil fuels, the group also wants renewable energy investment and for better building insulation to avoid energy waste.

What are Just Stop Oil’s tactics?

Just Stop Oil favours non-violent, civil resistance tactics of social disruption.

The group has garnered criticism for its protest methods, such as blocking roads and vandalism.

In the past year, protesters from Just Stop Oil have thrown soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery, attempted to disrupt the British Grand Prix, and caused the closure of the M25 with a series of demonstrations.

Activists recently disrupted the World Snooker Championship, as well as disrupting a football game by gluing and tying themselves to goalposts, stormed last year’s Baftas by banging drums and letting off flares, smeared cake on a waxwork of Prince Charles, and sprayed orange paint over a luxury car showroom, the Bank of England, a fossil-fuel lobbyist HQ, and other buildings.

They also marched from London’s Parliament Square every morning in the run-up to the King’s Coronation.

Most recently, protesters disrupted the Chelsea Flower Show on May 25 by throwing orange powder over a garden.

Three people were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.

Two Just Stop Oil activists also appeared in court this week after allegedly forcing a stoppage in play during Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership rugby union final at Twickenham.

Regarding their methods of protests, Just Stop Oil says: “Civil resistance is a powerful way for people to non-violently demand their rights, freedom, and justice.

“When people wage non-violent civil resistance, they use tactics such as strikes, boycotts, mass protests, and disruption to withdraw their co-operation from the state.”

The group has warned that their protests will continue until their demands are met by the UK Government.

Who funds Just Stop Oil?

On its website, the group says most of its funding for recruitment, training, capacity building, and education comes from the Climate Emergency Fund, a US network set up in 2019 to fund climate activism.

“We also receive donations from members of the public who support the campaign, and from foundations and groups who are as terrified as we are about the unfolding climate crisis,” it adds.