Inside story of climate activists linking up to take down fossil fuel infrastructure before it is too late
One rainy Monday morning I joined an Extinction Rebellion (XR) group to blockade the West London Fuel Depot owned by Exxon Mobil (trading as Esso), for the second time in four days.
This time we setup two ‘beacons’, complex towers made of bamboo, rope and people, outside Exxon’s gates at around 4am, preventing access to fuel trucks for the rest of the day. You can watch my short film video of the action here -
On Wednesday, XR shut the site for a third time, this time climbing on top of the fuel trucks to block access.
Alongside the new group Just Stop Oil, Extinction Rebellion will continue to blockade fossil fuel infrastructure until the government drop plans for all new fossil fuel investments.
The latest IPCC report from climate scientists has stated in no uncertain terms that the window of opportunity to avert catastrophe is rapidly closing. Existing fossil fuel plans will already release more greenhouse gases than we can afford to meet targets for net zero 2050; a target which still gives us only a 50/50 chance of keeping global temperature rise below the critical 1.5° mark.
New fossil fuels therefore have no place in our response to the energy crisis, but under lobby from the fossil fuel industry, the UK government are using the war in Ukraine to justify a series of new fossil fuel investments, and even putting fracking back on the table. None of these supposed emergency solutions would be operational in the near future to address the current energy crisis, and many of them would be for export, not UK markets.
Renewable energy projects also take time to create, so we need to invest now. To address the energy crisis in the short term we need to reduce our demand for fossil fuels. Home insulation rollout, flexible remote work arrangements, cycling infrastructure and mutual aid are all examples of ways to reduce our reliance on oil and gas now.
At COP26 Boris Johnson said, "Humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change. It's one minute to midnight on that doomsday clock and we need to act now." The statement could have come from Extinction Rebellion.
Three years ago, XR were just happy that the UK government had declared a climate emergency, in response to our first April Rebellion in London. It appeared they had met our first demand, to ‘Tell The Truth' about the climate and ecological crisis, but they just found new ways to mislead. As public understanding of the crisis has improved, instead of continuing to downplay it, statements like the one Johnson made at COP26 make the public feel like the climate crisis is finally being taken seriously.
Unfortunately it is a facade, behind which this government has resisted every call to action. Whilst the UK still holds the COP presidency, they're planning new fossil fuel investments, new roads, airport expansions and more acts of ecocide.
Knowing what they know, having the power they do, then making the decisions they do; I can’t help but feel that these governments and fossil fuel corporations are culpable of premeditated murder, particularity against people in the global South who have contributed the least to the crisis. That latest IPCC report projects that by 2030, half the population of Africa, some 700 million people, could be displaced by climate breakdown.
From this, we can understand the terrible motivations behind the government’s racist Nationalities and Borders Bill, which seeks to make asylum claims a practically impossible task and create offshore prisons for those who would try and find refuge here.
Likewise, it is clear why the government is hell-bent on passing the authoritarian (PCSC) Policing Bill. Amongst many other things it will introduce prison sentences for those arrested of a new offense - attending a protest that the government deem illegal, at their own discretion. They want to crush the very idea of rebellion, before the public realises exactly what road they've been led down.
Make no mistake, the government do grasp the gravity of the situation we're in, and they are responding. But instead of showing courage and taking preventative action, they are cowards, locking in a terrible future, locking up those who resist.
The clock is ticking on both our survival and our freedoms. I urge everyone, to join Extinction Rebellion in London this month for the next Rebellion beginning this Saturday, 9th April, to demand the necessary immediate action on the Climate & Ecological Emergency. We may not have another chance.
Words and film by Michael Truesdale
Photography by Andrea Domeniconi
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