War, racism and climate destruction (What’s Happening newsletter #20)

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War, oil, climate, and rebellion

Real Media has launched a new short film looking at how fossil-fuel lobbyists are using the war in Ukraine to push for new drilling, fracking and exploration just a week after the latest IPCC climate report lays stark the inevitability of human suffering for billions of people if governments fail to rapidly transform their energy policies away from fossil fuels.

In a recent report the International Energy Agency has backed up the advice to governments that there should be no more investment in fossil fuel projects if the world is to meet its “carbon budget”.

Last month the UK’s own Climate Change Commission wrote to business minister Kwasi Kwarteng telling him that “An end to UK exploration would send a clear signal to investors and consumers that the UK is committed to the 1.5°C global temperature goal. That would also help the UK in its diplomatic efforts to strengthen climate ambition internationally …

But Rishi Sunak is reportedly pushing for six new North Sea oil fields, telling Kwarteng to fast-track their licensing.

As Russia attacks Ukraine, Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan has taken the opportunity to call for a reversal on the government moratorium on fracking which has seen his failed Preston New Road site due to be plugged and abandoned.

Last October, the UK government published its own Net Zero Strategy which warns of mass migration, crop failure, and catastrophic climate tipping points if we fail to meet the 1.5ºC warming limit. But a mixture of climate deniers and many of the same lobbyists who were behind the Brexit campaign are fighting back. Nigel Farage has just launched a new campaign ‘Vote Power Not Poverty’ which wants to give the public a false binary choice between higher fuel bills or climate action in a new referendum.

At the launch of the IPCC report, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that he’d seen many scientific reports in his time “but nothing like this”. With “nearly half of humanity living in the danger zone NOW”, “delay means death”. In a call to arms, he said “now is the time to turn rage into action…every voice can make a difference and every second counts”.

Escalating war or ramping up domestic fossil fuel production are both strategies that will end in catastrophe.

In the coming weeks, massive civil disobedience is planned by new direct action group Just Stop Oil, and in April, Extinction Rebellion will be on the streets of London and other major cities round the world. Their message must encompass de-escalation and peaceful rebellion against the oligarchs (East and West) who are leading us to hell.

On Friday, led by Ukrainian activists, nearly 500 organisations across the world signed an open letter to governments asking them to ban Russian oil imports but ALSO to rapidly phase out all fossil fuels in the name of peace.

Calling out racism in the midst of war

Racism in corporate media coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has already become viral on social media. But double standards have also been clear in terms of Western policies regarding refugees.

Some campaigners have been raising funds to help African and Asian students in Ukraine escape from the country as they face hostility at the border:

There have also been calls to share footage of the violent treatment that fleeing people face in Melilla, one of Spain’s African territories [Trigger warning: violence]:

New climate movements

On 7 March, hundreds of activists launched the Tyre Extinguishers campaign, hoping to force a conversation about the prevalence of SUVs and 4×4 vehicles in our cities.

In a simple action using green lentils, they deflated the tyres of these oversized cars in cities across the UK, leaving explanatory leaflets on windscreens to warn drivers that their vehicles had been immobilised and tell them about all the cleaner and safer ways they could make their journeys.

The de-centralised group hopes to inspire a mass movement, and says it is taking this action because politicians are failing to protect us from these unnecessary massive killer vehicles, and it wants to make it impossible to own a huge polluting 4×4 in urban areas.

Students For Survival is a fledgling campaign in support of Just Stop Oil, and yesterday morning, small groups of school students staged mini school strikes for the third week in a row across the country. They are calling on classmates to join them, and they hold weekly Zoom meetings to encourage their classmates to learn about civil resistance and join the movement.

Finally, Youth Climate Swarm is another new youth movement practising civil resistance with the intent to bring cities to a standstill with many small fluid groups disrupting traffic junctions.

Again, they plan to provide support over the coming weeks as climate activists hold the government to account. 

Other News

  • Campaigners seeking to disrupt the arms trade blockaded Lockheed Martin’s biggest UK facility at Ampthill on 7 March.

  • Four anti-HS2 activists were acquitted of aggravated trespass by a magistrate in High Wycombe on 7 March after he heard expert witnesses indicate that a 200-year old alder tree, which the activists were trying to protect, may have been felled illegally by HS2 Ltd.
  • Trans campaigners hit the streets of London on 5 March:

  • A year on from the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard, campaigners will rally in London again to oppose an increase in powers for the police:

  • Rent strikers have criticised the University of Bristol amid stalling negotiations:

That’s all for this week. Please let us know of any stories and issues you’d like to see more of, and remember to subscribe on YouTube.