Note interview with CarrZee and others in the Real Media video immediately below.
Opinion by Mathew Carr
April 25, 2023 — Just Stop Oil wants the UK government to stop allowing new projects for oil, natural gas and coal and this summer the environmental group said it will disrupt London until the demand is met.
Criticised for being a bunch of middle-class complainers, I joined the group yesterday for its first summer “slow march” and found that’s just not true.
In the group I joined, there were people speaking up and chanting, from all walks of life. They don’t want to be disrupting traffic, yet feel it’s necessary because 30 years of climate talks — three decades of diplomacy — have not stopped the rise of heat-trapping gas production. GHG production remains at record levels.
The group’s demands, if met, have a chance to help protect vulnerable people around the world, not just the already coddled class in Britain. They are taking time on their days off, suffering risk of arrest, dealing with abuse and physical risk
Here’s how their effort might have a global impact:
The world’s 200 nations, especially the G20, are still looking to agree a biting framework to meet the targets contained in the Paris climate deal, which was agreed more than 7 years ago in late 2015. That agreement remains a very loose set of voluntary guidelines, as of right now. There’s no compulsion. There are no sanctions. It was designed to be non threatening so that countries would join in the emissions-cutting effort.
Yet for those 7 years, the US boosted fossil-fuel production, China and India built new coal stations, Brazil felled the Amazon, while the UK continued to expand North Sea fossil fuels and even had the audacity to propose a new steel-coal mine (amid the Ukraine war and fraught global geopolitics).
Viewed through a climate lens, which in my opinion is the most sensible way to view the geopolitical situation, the prolonged negotiation is like a giant game of “chicken” – with rich countries racing toward poorer nations threatening a brutal head-on smash … until one or the other sides “swerve” out of the way.
The principle of the game is that while the ideal outcome is for one player to yield (to avoid the worst outcome if neither yields – the deadly collision), the individuals try to avoid it out of pride for not wanting to look like a “chicken” (Wikipedia).
Britain agreeing to stop issuing new oil and gas licences would represent such a swerve. In my opinion such a move would not make the UK a chicken but a global hero.
It’s right that the rich swerve because they have caused most of the crisis. The United Kingdom, while relatively small today economically, started global warming when it began the industrial revolution in the 1800s.
That damaging model has been copied across the Earth. Nature is now on its knees.
Whether the US and other OECD nations would follow any swerve by Britain is an open question. There is pressure on them to do so because they as a group, like Britain, are most to blame.
What is also not clear is whether the likes of the BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa — would agree to stop licensing fossil fuels any time soon just because fully industrialized countries do. There’s a chance they will if the extra clean-tech costs in the transition are at least subsidized by those who have already done most damage.
Just as Just Stop Oil has de-escalation policies if the drivers they block get annoyed, agreeing to stop issuing fossil fuel licences in Britain just might begin to de-escalate some of the politics of the acute global crisis we find ourselves in.
Unless that happens within months, the 1.5C temperature-rise target in the Paris climate deal is certainly lost. And probably the 2C limit, too.