“As the seas die, we die” – protest in Plymouth against fossil fuels

All photos by the author

As temperatures rise so do west country climate activists: Rosie Haworth Booth reports.

The  days following the weekend 16/17 July were predicted to be the hottest on record in the UK.  It was maybe a significant coincidence that this was the weekend that Extinction Rebellion activists chose to raise public consciousness in Plymouth – England’s ‘Ocean City’ – about fossil fuels, which campaigners say are causing massive problems everywhere but this time the focus was on marine life.

The carnivalesque atmosphere in fact had a very serious message. Activists created masks and costumes representing dead oceans with dead fish, bleached coral, toxic waste and plastic rubbish, but also others representing living seas with seaweed, and fish, jelly- and starfish.

They were taking action against the world’s largest independent oil refinery, Valero.

In April Valero took out a court injunction to protect their sites from demonstrations by the campaign group Just Stop Oil. Several arrests were made at that time, including campaigners from the south west. 

Joe Wilson-Palmer, speaking for Extinction Rebellion, told us

Valero’s website says they care about the environment; that they are the world’s second largest producer of corn ethanol; that they have 33 wind turbines in the US.  but what kind of boasts are these? Corn ethanol may be worse for the environment than even fossil fuels and 33 wind turbines across the whole of the US is less than a nano-drop in the ocean.  

“The injunction tells us they are trying to conceal the continuing harm they are causing, all whilst they extract maximum profits during the cost-of-living scandal.

“We refuse to be silenced by these cowardly tactics being deployed by the big polluters. We are pointing the finger at Valero’s ecocidal and genocidal business model. António Guterres (UN Secretary General)has said ‘climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals but the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels’.”