Extinction Rebellion confront drivers at petrol station

Drivers were discouraged from stopping for fuel by environmental activists protesting against petrol station owner Shell.

Members of Extinction Rebellion Cardiff and Extinction Rebellion Cardiff Students took part in the protest.

Extinction Rebellion targeted drivers stopping for fuel at a petrol station in Cardiff on Saturday to protest against owner Shell for its response to climate change.

The environmental campaign group sang, waved banners and handed out leaflets at Cardiff Gate Services in an attempt to persuade customers of the oil and gas company to fill their vehicles elsewhere.

Shell says fuel customers can drive carbon neutral with its rewards and offsetting programme Shell Go+, which Extinction Rebellion claim is misleading and “greenwashing”.

“This isn’t about picking on individuals,” said Matt Tomlin of Extinction Rebellion Cardiff Students.

“We all do these things which are not necessarily that sustainable because we are stuck in this system that keeps perpetuating fossil fuels,” he said.

“The link is that the companies in charge are the ones that are responsible and this is about making sure that companies are the ones to blame.”

The group is demanding that big companies like Shell take action and the Government provide more efficient integrated public transport systems so people can leave their cars at home.

Rhys Thomas, 22, stopped to fill up his car when he was approached by two members of Extinction Rebellion. He said: “I thought petrol is the same everywhere, isn’t it?”.

Mr Thomas said he was interested in their protest and happy to hear them out. “I was so low I urgently had to go in here,” he said. “If I was getting a full tank I might have gone around the corner.

Other customers weren’t quite as understanding and at least one driver swore at the protesters as they attempted to use the petrol station.

Despite being on the receiving end of this, Christine Glossop, retired, maintains the protest as a whole was worthwhile after convincing one person not to take petrol from the garage.  

Some protesters stood at the petrol pumps waiting for drivers to pull up.

“I think most people we spoke to were quite positive. Most took leaflets,” she said, having spoken to several motorists.

“I just feel very strongly about the climate crisis and the ecological crisis and I think Shell are one of the biggest companies in the world producing carbon.”

Shell staff members looked on from inside the petrol station as the protest group stood at the pumps for a little over an hour – after which they packed up and left, without any police involvement.

Shell Go+ customers can have their emissions offset through carbon capture and storage projects, according to Shell.

A Shell spokesperson said: “We agree that action is needed now on climate change, so we fully support the Paris Agreement and the need for society to transition to a lower-carbon future. 

“We have already invested billions of dollars in a range of low-carbon technologies, from biofuels, hydrogen and wind power, to electric vehicle charging and smart energy storage solutions.

Addressing a challenge as big as climate change requires a truly collaborative, society-wide approach. We’re committed to playing our part, by addressing our own emissions and helping customers to reduce theirs.”