The London Marathon went ahead without incident and people packed the streets to watch it, despite climate protesters threatening to disrupt it. Apart from a few banners – mostly obscured by the copious LGBTQIA+ flags along the route – there was no evidence of climate protesters. Perhaps Extinction Rebellion’s offer to ‘police’ the marathon kept the protesters at bay; the optics of two groups of climate protesters scrapping like rival groups of football hooligans would not have been their best publicity.
Just Stop Oil – one of the climate protesting groups – is a coalition of groups working together to ensure the government commits to halting new fossil fuel licensing and production. The group was founded in February 2022, and began protesting at an English oil terminal in April of that year.
It first made a name for itself when a protester tied himself to a goalpost during a premier league match at Goodison Park in September. Louis McKechnie was, thankfully, found guilty of this bizarre act and later stated that he was hoping to save lives through his actions. But how is tying yourself to a goal with a metal-enforced zip around your neck going to achieve this? If others, for example children, emulate this it could be downright dangerous. Also, it just makes you look like an idiot. He could have just run around the pitch like a normal pitch invader. He achieved nothing, except six-weeks in prison. Undoubtedly, he thought that was worth it.
The group went quiet for a while, but in April 2023 it stated that it would ramp up its actions and was plotting a summer of sporting chaos. It started with the Grand National, an event watched and loved by millions. Then, when watching the Snooker World Championships, as I do every year, a man with a ‘Just Stop Oil’ t-shirt broke past the security, jumped on the table and covered it in orange powder. Snooker has nothing to do with oil. The cues are made from wood, the table is made from quarried slate that is covered with cloth and rubber cushions and it is a long time since elephants were shot to make the balls. He made himself look like a fool and he ruined the night for everyone who paid to watch the event. The reason the protestors do this is to get their message over. However, the reactions from the crowd showed that nobody cared; people were shouting ‘get him off’ and they were swearing at him.
The protester who made it on to a table (the other female protester was stopped by a quick acting referee) is Edred Whittingham who comes from a privileged background. As with so many of these protesters (statue demolishers, animal rights protesters and other climate change activists), these are posh people spoiling working class people’s fun. Thankfully, Barry Hearn, the owner of World Snooker, is ready to fund legal action on behalf of the 400 fans who were affected by the protester. However, with top lawyers saying that they will not participate in prosecuting climate protesters and judges being notoriously reluctant to throw the book at them, a prosecution seems unlikely.
These groups are ridiculous and their aim to ‘stop oil’ is not going to be achieved. While trying to do this, one has to ask how they got into the events? Perhaps a magic carpet? Footage on Telegram from a protest on Saturday showed rows of coaches that had been used to bus in protesters from Extinction Rebellion and the LPG generators they were using to power their platforms and inflatable protest banners. Hypocritical or what?
We cannot live without oil; we need it for transportation, heating buildings, producing electricity and to create hundreds of intermediate and end-user goods. The protestors refuse to acknowledge the efforts and achievements over the decades to make fossil fuels cleaner, reduce our dependence on them and to improve the environment. The Government seems to pay them too much attention but, fortunately, the general public largely ignores them. If they want to stop something, they should stop trying to ruin things that millions of people enjoy.
Jack Watson is a pupil at Sirius North Academy, Kingston upon Hull. He blogs about being a Hull City fan at Ten Foot Tigers.