Relentless climate action of all kinds

IssueDecember 2023 - January 2024
The HSBC Nine, Southwark crown court, 31 October. Photo: Gareth Morris/XR
News by Rebecca Elson-Watkins

Here are some of the climate actions that have taken place in the UK since our last issue. The major event was the acquittal, on 16 November, of the HSBC Nine: XR women prosecuted for £500,000 damage done to windows at the headquarters of HSBC bank in London in 2021.

The other major event has been the continuing Just Stop Oil (JSO) slow walk campaign in London, mostly marching from Trafalgar Square to Whitehall.

JSO claim there have been 612 arrests between 30 October and 22 November. Some activists have been arrested within seconds of stepping into the road. Most arrests have been under Section 7 of the Public Order Act (interfering with key national infrastructure, the roads). Seven activists are being held on remand at the time of writing.

  • 30 September: Fossil Free London organise a march of hundreds through London to protest against government approval of the Rosebank oil field in the North Sea.
  • 4 October: Five JSO supporters arrested after disrupting a performance of Les Misérables in London.
  • 7 October: 100 singers from nine Climate Choirs, organised by Extinction Rebellion (XR), stage a choral protest inside London’s Science Museum, demanding museum trustees refuse sponsorship money from coal and gas producer Adani.
  • 9 October: XR display images of environmental destruction from photographer Gideon Mendel’s series ‘Drowning World’ outside Standard Chartered’s London office to protest against their involvement in fossil fuels.
  • 9 – 12 October: JSO Student supporters paint university buildings across England, demanding that the universities publicly call on the government to end new oil and gas projects. Actions took place at: the University of Bristol (Ben Meehan, 21); Oxford University (Daniel Knorr, 21, and Noah Crane, 18); Exeter University (George Simonson, 23); University College London (Arthur Clifton, 22); Birmingham University (Harrison Donnelly); Sussex University (Oscar Denman-Gould); Falmouth University (Ethan Paul, 22, and Holly Astle, 28); Cambridge University (Chiara Sarti, 24); Leeds University (Sam Holland); and Manchester University (Ruby Hamill, 19).
  • 12 October: The court of appeal denies JSO supporters Morgan Trowland and Marcus Decker the opportunity to appeal their sentences of three years, and two years and seven months, respectively, for blockading the Dartford Crossing in October 2022.
  • 14 – 20 October: Fossil Free London organises ‘Oily Money Out’, blockading the Oil & Money Conference, holding trainings and discussion meetings, and carrying out other actions (see separate report).
  • 15 October: JSO activists Idris (20), Luke Watson (32) and one other are arrested for criminal damage for painting a screen at games expo EGX 2023.
  • 17 October: They are supported by Friends of the Earth, Kevin Jordan and Doug Paulley file a case against the UK government in the high court in London, for failing to protect their lives, homes and property from foreseeable impacts of the climate emergency.
  • 18 October: XR activists disrupt the 2023 PR Week Awards with an alternative ‘Charred Earth’ awards outside the venue. They are supported by Friends of the Earth. JSO co-founders Indigo Rumbelow, 29, and Roger Hallam, 57, were arrested in separate dawn raids.
  • 19 October: Three arrests as 23 JSO supporters block traffic on Portland Beach Road, Dorset, before blocking the coach carrying people to the notorious Bibby Stockholm prison ship for asylum-seekers.
  • 23 October: 12 JSO supporters appear at the high court accused of contempt of court for breaking a National Highways’ injunction when they climbed or attempted to climb gantries over the M25 in November 2022: Mair Bain; Paul Vincent Bell, 23; Paul Bleach; Gaie Delap, 76; Luke Elson; Theresa Higginson; Rosemary Jackson, 25; Daniel Johnson; Charlotte Kirin; Joseph Linhart; Theresa Norton, 65; and Paul Sousek. On 30 October, Theresa Norton and Mair Bain receive suspended sentences, after admitting prior knowledge of the injunction. The others receive no penalty and they were found not to have prior knowledge.
  • 24 October: Three JSO supporters display banners and deposit a large amount of legal paperwork on the floor inside law firm DLA Piper, which has profited from injunctions brought by the government against climate protesters.
  • 25 October: Three JSO supporters arrested for painting Wellington Arch in London, including Joshua Lane, 26, and Joe Hogan, 40.
  • 26 October: JSO supporters Dr Will Stableforth and Steve Fay arrested for powder painting a reproduction dinosaur skeleton at London’s Natural History Museum.
  • 27 October: JSO supporters Stephanie Golder, Louise Harris, Sean Irish, Peter Lay, Louis McKechnie, and Bethany Mogie receive suspended sentences of between six and 17 months, after pleading guilty to criminal damage to petrol pumps at Cobham services on the M25 in April 2022.
  • 31 October: multiple cases of JSO slow-marchers refusing to give their names and causing difficulties at Westminster magistrates courts.
  • 1 November: Greenpeace land a giant inflatable octopus on the Thames riverbank at the base of the houses of parliament to expose the government’s lack of action to protect the oceans. The case against four JSO and Animal Rising supporters (for blockading Westminster bridge in October 2022) is dismissed due to insufficient evidence. XR co-founder Dr Gail Bradbrook is found guilty of causing criminal damage to a department of transport window in October 2019. She will be sentenced on 18 December.
  • 2 November: JSO supporters Sam Griffiths, 48, Merle Gering, and Chrissy Kelly, 65, were remanded in prison for 28 days for slow marching on the streets of London to demand an end to new oil and gas. This is the first time anyone has been sentenced under the new law on interfering with key national infrastructure (roads). 11 JSO activists are released on GPS tags.
  • 3 November: XR supporters Green councillor Amanda Fox, 52, and Jennifer Parkhouse, 71, are found guilty of criminal damage for breaking the windows of Barclays bank in Norwich in June 2021. Fox receives 60 hours’ community service; Parkhouse 100 hours.
  • 4 November: XR, Friends of the Earth, Climate Action Network and local residents block the entrance to Farnborough airport to protest proposed expansion of private jet flights.
  • 6 November: JSO supporters Hanan Ameur, 22, and Harrison Donnelly, 20, smash the glass covering the a painting by Velasquez, in the National Gallery, “The Rokeby Venus”, which was once slashed seven times by suffragette Mary Richardson. Defend our Juries activists sat silently outside the court in Insulate Britain case holding signs that said: ‘Jurors have an absolute right to acquit a defendant according to their conscience.’
  • 9 November: Greenpeace UK and Greenpeace International are sued by Shell, threatening an $8m damages claim and a protest ban.
  • 10 November: XR, Money Rebellion, Stop EACOP UK and Tipping Point UK take a ‘Riskometer’ to Chubb and AIG Insurers to illustrate the hazards to people, planet, and business of insuring oil and gas projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Four Insulate Britain protesters (Louise Lancaster, 58; Stefania Morosi, 46; Tim Speers; and Nick Till, 68) are found guilty of causing a public nuisance and given community service orders of up to 140 hours, suspended prison sentences of eight weeks, and court costs (£900 – £3,200).
  • 15 November: XR launch ‘Don’t Pay for Dirty Water’, encouraging people to withhold the wastewater part of their water bill to end the practice of dumping billions of litres a year of untreated sewage in Britain’s waterways.
  • 16 November: Nine XR women (Jessica Agar, 23; Blyth Brentnall, 32; Valerie Brown, 71; Eleanor Bujak, 30; Clare Farrell, 40; Miriam Instone, 25; Tracey Mallaghan, 47; Susan Reid, 65; and Samantha Smithson, 41) found not guilty of criminal damage by a jury, after causing £500,000 damage to windows at the headquarters of HSBC bank in London in April 2021. l Three JSO activists (Ruby Hamill, 19; Phoebe Plummer, 22; Chiara Sarti, 24) remanded to prison for slow walking.
  • 17 November: JSO supporter Ella Ward, 20, remanded in prison after refusing to stop slow marching.
  • 18 November: Christian Climate Action, Fossil Free London, JSO, the Peace & Justice Project and XR organise an 800-strong march to Shell HQ.
  • 20 November: JSO supporters Noah Crane (18) and Cressie Gethin (21), remanded to prison after slow walking.