“No new oil!”, says Wimborne

Photo courtesy of Extinction Rebellion Wimborne

The colourful campaigners of Extinction Rebellion Wimborne (XR-Wimborne) joined the crowds gathered for the Inside Out Dorset performances in September 2023.

“We sang fossil fuels themed songs, processed and unfurled banners before the Inside Out performances started, and in parts of Wimborne where performances weren’t taking place. Our message was simple, there’s still time to avoid the worst of climate chaos,” said XR-Wimborne  member and retired ship’s captain, Peter Aldous.

The campaigners joined the Global Fight Fossil Fuels action with their trademark humour. Hundreds of thousands of people took part in 650 actions in more than 65 countries. Every single continent took part, even Antarctica, where scientists stood in the snow. The Fight Fossil Fuels video produced to mark the event features campaigners from Kathmandu to Kyiv and from Chennai to Copenhagen … and Wimborne!

Our government is failing us on many fronts in our battle against climate change. It is failing our children and grandchildren, too, because it is destroying the hope of a liveable planet in future. Our placards say No New Oil, No New Gas, No New Coal. We chose these words as this relates to new fossil fuels rather than all fossil fuels. We designed our placards to be read upside down, as well, because climate change will turn our world upside down.

The upside-down part of the ‘No New Oil’ placard says, “Our government must stop approving new oilfields.” In July the Government made an announcement that at least 100 new licences to extract oil and gas from the North Sea would be issued. Number10 also said the plan was to ‘max out’ the North Sea. This move has been condemned by the Government’s own advisors, the Committee on Climate Change. It’s against the advice of the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change, and the International Energy Agency.

New oil and gas from the North Sea are often justified on the basis that they are ‘our’ oil and gas, and we need them to reduce our household energy bills. Nothing could be further from the truth. The oil and gas extracted will be sold on the international energy market to the highest bidder. It will not be for the use of the UK, nor will it reduce our energy bills.

Instead, it will add to the overall emissions of greenhouse gases, making the journey towards net zero more difficult and making it more likely that the world will exceed 1.5 degrees of warming above pre-industrial levels. This is disastrous for all our futures. Upwards of 1.5 will spell untold suffering and misery across the globe. Scientists believe the 1.5 degrees target could be breached within the next five years.

Think about the challenges already faced by the world because of climate change – floods, wildfires, droughts, famine – these can only get much, much worse unless urgent action is taken. East Africa has faced years of drought and this would not have happened without climate change. Millions face hunger every day.

The upside-down part of our ‘No New Oil’ placard mentions #StopRosebank. Rosebank is a huge oil and gas field in the North Sea and the government’s decision to go ahead will blast a hole in our net zero and climate change policies and our 1.5 degrees target. Campaigners and scientists say it will be a death sentence for many. Rosebank is owned by a Norwegian company, Equinor. The oil and gas from it would be sold on the international energy market to the highest bidder.

Photo courtesy of Extinction Rebellion Wimborne

The reverse of the ‘No New Coal’ placard says, “Our government must stop approving new coal mines”. Last year, the Government approved the Whitehaven coal mine. This coal mine will produce 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year, equivalent to putting 200,000 cars on the road. Again, this will blast a hole in the UK’s climate change policies. This coal will not be used in this country because it is low quality. It will be exported for use in the steel industry abroad. But most European steel makers are turning away from coal and adopting greener methods such as electric arc furnaces and renewable energy.

Our call for no new fossil fuels does not mean stop putting petrol in your car. It means our government should stop allowing projects which benefit no one apart from the fossil fuel company shareholders, and jeopardise the future of the planet for all of us. 

We call for a just, equitable and rapid transition to renewables. Renewable energy derived from onshore and offshore wind farms, solar farms and from waves would provide abundant, clean, local and cheap energy. But our government is not fostering or encouraging the green economy. In many instances it is blocking it. For example, there are more than 600 onshore wind and solar farms that could go ahead but our government is not giving consent. We need innovation and investment in this area and it’s not going to happen unless the government gets fully behind the green economy.

Our government must also provide realistic grants to homeowners. The grants for heat pumps are too low. The regulations for heat pumps are outdated and haven’t taken into account innovation: instead of allowing heat pump installations to go ahead they make it more difficult. Government grants are available for insulation but they are only for a limited number of households. Our housing stock is the leakiest in Europe, losing an average of three degrees of heat over five hours. This insulation grant should be more widely available. Taking all these factors into account,

“I’m very proud to have taken part in the global call to end fossil fuels. To have received the warm reception we did in Wimborne reminds me that I live in a town where people really care about the environment and the future of our planet,” said XR-Wimborne  member Steve Hutton.

[Editor’s comment: Rosebank: receives £3.75bn of taxpayer subsidy which could have been invested in renewables. 80 per cent of the oil will be exported, not a penny off bills, equivalent to half all UK emissions for a year. As or new jobs? The oil will not even be refined in the UK…
The author adds: “Hopefully this issue will go to court, hopefully this will work. But the government regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority, has given consent, when clearly this is against all sense, and the recent report of the International Energy Agency. The Rosebank consent is the point – this is how our government is failing us.