The right to protest has existed for a while in modern countries. But the how is just as important as the what.

Qui sont Just Stop Oil et ont-ils raison ?

Dernière mise à jour le 9 janvier 2024 par Ecologica Life

Just Stop Oil are an environmental activist group based in the UK with some similarities to environmentalist group Extinction Rebellion. They have acquired some fame (and infamy) recently due to the type of protests that they have carried out, from disruptions on motorways and football matches to throwing tomato soup at a Van Goph painting. In this article we will explore who Just Stop Oil are, how they protest and whether it is the most effective method of driving the environmental movement forward.

Who Are Just Stop Oil?

Just Stop Oil are an environmental activist group that are campaigning for the UK government to cease any new licences for the exploration of oil and other fossil fuels in the UK. They also demand investment in renewable energy and for buildings to have better thermal insulation (to avoid energy waste).

The group launched on 14th February 2022 and according to them, its supporters have been arrested nearly 2000 times. Just Stop Oil receives all of its funding from donations and accepts both Ethereum, a cryptocurrency, and more conventional currency payments. Their usage of Ethereum was criticised by some environmentalists because cryptocurrencies have a significant carbon footprint. Through a software update in September 2022, Ethereum reduced their environmental impact from roughly 8.5GW to less than 8.5MW.

The Climate Emergency Fund from the United States provides most of the money for Just Stop Oil. Interestingly, Aileen Getty, granddaughter of petroleum tycoon J Paul Getty has donated significantly to Just Stop Oil through the fund. The Climate Emergency Fund have explained that Aileen Getty herself did not work in the fossil fuel sector.

The group is said to be non-hierarchical. Activists in the group reportedly operate in autonomous blocs that share resources but recognise no formal leadership.

What Are the Methods Of Protest For Just Stop Oil?

According to Just Stop Oil the group prefers nonviolent direct action and civil resistance over violent action. Sit-ins, tree sitting, strikes, road blockades, hacktivism and tax resistance are all examples of nonviolent direct action.

The group has been heavily criticized for some of its protesting methods. These have included:

  • Disrupting football matches: For example, one protester raced onto the field at Goodison Park in Liverpool on March 21 and cable-tied himself to a goalpost by his neck, stopping play during a football game.
  • Suspension of the 2022 British Grand Prix due to an accident on the first lap, a group of Just Stop Oil supporters walked onto the track and took a seat on the asphalt. The police detained them. The Formula One drivers Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, and Carlos Sainz supported the protestors’ cause but not their behaviour, saying that they shouldn’t have put themselves in danger of harm.
  • Oil company protests: They began blocking 10 crucial oil facilities throughout England on April 1, 2022, in an effort to shut off the supply of gasoline to South East England.
  • Motorway protests: Just Stop Oil began a month-long demonstration in London in October 2022. From the end of September to the beginning of October, Just Stop Oil organised 32 days of blocking roads and bridges that led to 677 arrests and 111 charges.

Are Their Methods Effective?

They have succeeded in getting more publicity. The video where the two Just Stop Oil protesters threw tomato soup at the Van Goph painting gained 8 million views on twitter alone. Howeverm when you look at the comments, this act divided many people.

Other tactics like blocking motorways and invading football matches will also no doubt gain attention, but at what cost? The people affected by these actions are the public, the average Joe. Disrupting the lives of the average person won’t stop climate change. Nor will it convince these people to become more environmentally friendly or get involved in the climate change movement. It won’t convince them to vote for and put pressure on their local and national politicians for pro-environmental legislation. The only thing this type of act can hope to achieve is to have more people associating the environmental movement with annoyance and hate.

The changes humanity needs to do to maintain global temperatures at below 1.5ºC are drastic at the least. Drastic change will take global cooperation to avoid the worst of the climate change consequences we are likely to face in the coming decades. It is now more than ever than we need to stand united, not divided.

We have succeeded in bringing about global change before. During the 1980s, it was realised that a giant hole in the ozone had been created due to chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and similar to now, we were on the verge on catastrophe. Unsimilar to now however, humanity came together and signed the Protocole de Montréal, a pledge that countries made to phase out use of CFCs. The global cooperation worked and the hole in the ozone is continuing to decrease as of 2022.

Conclusion

We at ecologica.life support the right to protest. We understand the frustration of enlightened individuals who understand that there is only a slim window of time left to stop and reverse human engineered climate change. It is understandable that for that reason, some groups may believe that only drastic forms of protest can be enough to convince the people of the importance of making global changes now.

However, maybe there is a better form of protest? One that is more specific to the problem, one that won’t disrupt the lives of the average person who individually is not at fault for climate change. Let us instead put pressure on big corporations and politicians, to promote pro-environmental initiatives and legislation. Get to know you local and national government. At the very least, let us not protest in a way that is so likely to divide and promote polarisation, of individuals. Because protecting the Earth is a cause that realistically should have no opposition. It is for the betterment and is directly related to us all.

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