Two Just Stop Oil supporters painted think tank Policy Exchange headquarters last week in London (Picture: Just Stop Oil)

Climate group Just Stop Oil (JSO) hit government buildings, right wing think tanks and slow marched through London last week to demand an end to new oil and gas licenses. It was the latest phase of a long-running campaign of disruption that has made the group a household name.

JSO supporter William took part in a slow march beginning in Elephant and Castle in south London.

As he marched, he wore a placard with pictures of his grandchildren. “I have three grandchildren, one just two days old. I am doing this for them”, he said. “I feel I’m forced to be here by our government that puts profit before people. I’ve had five meetings with my MP, Chris Grayling. He won’t listen about oil and has licenses.”

William thinks that group’s the strategy of obstruction is vital.

“I’ve gone on marches, signed petitions, and been part of actions that cause no disruption,” he says. But none of that works, so we must try new tactics. Unfortunately, us doing this is what gets the most attention. I was on Extinction Rebellion’s The Big One earlier this year, and it barely got any media coverage.

“But when I ran onto the tennis courts at Wimbledon and threw confetti, it was in every newspaper,” William added. Of course, newspapers criticise us, but even that leads to a discussion about why we are doing it.”

Just a few minutes away, another group of JSO activists attempted to begin a slow march. They were apprehended by a group of people wearing shirts emblazoned with the words, “Just stop pissing people off.” The reactionaries managed to encircle the non-violent climate activists but later dispersed.

Activist Pau told Socialist Worker, “I don’t feel like I have a choice.

“I must be here because while the government creates the illusion it’s doing something, they are doing nothing. I’ve been protesting about the climate since I was twelve. Billions of people could be made climate refugees in the next few decades. We need to act now.”

Another activist, Dan, added that he wants to see more links built between the workers’ movement and JSO.

“We need to bridge that gap between us and the trade union movement. We must say that workers should lead the move away from fossil fuels. Ultimately, we need a completely different kind of economy,” he added.

Dan signalled that what’s needed now is a much broader movement to fight climate destruction, one that blocks roads but also goes much further.

The extreme heat hitting mainland Europe, the US and Asia should be a call to arms for everyone that wants to fight climate change to come together. JSO is a relatively small group of activists that has bravely kept up direct action to pressure the government.

But these tactics alone won’t be enough anymore— especially since the state has become so efficient at stopping actions, persecuting activists and smearing the group.

What’s needed now is for larger forces to join with JSO. To begin this process, there must be a serious and urgent conversation between those in the climate movement, social justice campaigns, and the workers’ movement.

From such a dialogue, new strategies for targeting the system could emerge—and as Dan suggests, bring the labour movement closer to the climate movement. We need strikes, massive protests and direct action combined to force our government to move. The fight for survival on this planet is on. Our best hope is to build a united, militant and radical climate movement.

Some names have been changed

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