Extinction Rebellion pressures UK government to stop fossil fuel exploration

Protestors worried that more granting of license of oil and gas extraction will damage marine environment and decline the investment in the renewables.

Labour AM Huw Irranca Davie said that a cross-party effort should be taken to cope with climate emergency

Extinction Rebellion protested in Cardiff Bay to pressure UK government to cease further extraction of fossil fuel in Welsh waters.

The protest was triggered by the publication of The Welsh National Marine Plan (WNMP), which optimizes economic development by allowing offshore oil and gas exploration within Welsh waters. While the Welsh government opposes the plan, powers over granting the licenses for offshore oil and gas extraction are devolved to Westminster.

“We are going to take the protest to the Welsh office which is the UK government’s representation in Wales to make the point that we think there should be no further exploitation of oil,” said Glenn, a protestor.

Protestors marching down to the Welsh Office

The protestors initially gathered at Senedd, National Assembly for Wales, singing protest folk songs in chorus. While holding the banners and placards themed protection of marine lives and banning on fossil fuel extraction, the group repeated the verse like “if we want a better future, we need to start right now”.

Politicians and campaigner delivered speeches, showing their concern for the plan.

Mick Antoniw, Welsh Labour & Cooperative Assembly Member, said that UK government should take control of the economy where most corporations disregard anything to do with climate change.

Labour AM Mick Antoniw said that fundamental services, like gas and electricity, should never go to the private hands.

The privatization of British Gas under Margaret Thatcher’s government in the 1980s leads the country to a competitive energy market with multiple suppliers, which cut the consumers’ cost. Drilling activities are increasing to meet a plentiful market demand. According to OGUK’s report, 8 exploration wells and 10 appraisal wells began drilling in the first seven months of the year — more than those drilled during the whole of 2018.  

“UK is going in the right direction with coal but the bad news is that we’re going in completely the opposite direction with oil and gas,” said Stuart McWilliam, a climate change campaigner. “But what makes it worse is they’re using UK taxpayers’ subsidies to do that (extract oil and gas).”

Protestors demanded that subsidies should go to the renewables and alternative industries to shift the UK to a decarbonized economy.

The protestors also said that the plan will damage the ecology and biodiversity in marine environment. “We have to get a balance somehow in terms of achieving some of our right energy and so on but also retaining the ecology that support our existence,” said Glenn, a protestor.

After the speeches, protestors marched down to Welsh office which is the UK government’s representation in Wales. The crowd was led by Red Rebels, the icon commonly appeared in the demonstration of Extinction Rebellion.

Red Rebels led the crowd
People demonstrated in front of the Welsh Office

“Through the protest, we want people to feel empowered,” said David. “People from across West Wales, where a license has already been granted, are concerned about their coastlines. By organizing a protest, we are enabling their voices to be heard but also raising awareness the wider public that we can take action in a positive way.”

“People need to become informed. People have to understand there are various impact can have of different actions and then they can think about what kind of action they might take,” said Glenn.

While the Red Rebels were displaying gestures in front of the Welsh Office and the chorus began again, someone shouted at the building, saying “Don’t be scared.”