Extinction Rebellion (XR) and XR Youth Cambridge have targeted the Schlumberger research centre in Cambridge with their latest protest today (3 July).
The climate change activists held a socially distanced protest at the site as well as blockading the entrance in an effort to disrupt the company’s daily business, while other protesters staged what they called an “oil spill” on site and locked themselves to the building.
XR groups from Cambridge targeted Schlumberger, a giant in the oil industry, as they claimed it had just accepted a £150m bailout loan from the UK government, as XR said “in the same month that the government’s own Committee on Climate Change urged radical action to use the COVID-19 recovery to move the UK away from fossil fuels and onto a sustainable footing.”
In a statement, the Cambridge branch of XR said the ‘oil spill stunt’ was “intended to make Schlumberger look as oily on the outside as it is on the inside.
“Schlumberger was heavily involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill ten years ago, the clean-up for which is ongoing and predicted to still be in progress in another ten years time.
“It was the biggest environmental disaster in US history.”
Back in February, XR Cambridge took part in their week-long ‘Rebel for Justice’ campaign, during which they targeted the Schlumberger building.
Protesters glued themselves to the entrance of the building, as well as to police vehicles after officers arrived to disperse the protesters.
During the week, the climate change activists had three main demands:
The University of Cambridge must cut ties with the fossil fuel industry.
Cambridge City Council must hold a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Justice.
Cambridgeshire County Council must work with other relevant regional authorities to provide a plan for a just transition away from an inadequate transport system reliant on fossil fuels.They claim that Schlumberger is “one of the many fossil fuel companies with deep connections to Cambridge University”.
Jamie, of XR Cambridge, said at the scene: “We are here today because neither the government nor the University will stand up to the fossil fuel industry.
“With every new report and research paper we see that the biggest emergency in human history is worse than we previously thought.
“Yet those in positions of responsibility refuse to act. As we come out of this global pandemic, none of us want to be out here protesting.
“But the government and the University are up to their eyeballs in oil and happy to stay that way – so it is left up to us to sound the alarm and shut down the planet-destroyers.”
Jamie carried on to say: “Two weeks ago, the chief of the International Energy Agency said that we have just six months left to take action to avoid an irreversible carbon rebound in the wake of COVID-19.
“And a new paper published this month suggested we could be on track for much higher levels of warming than we previously thought.
“The Arctic is on fire, England has just experiences its driest May of record, the UK has just had its sunniest Spring – when will politicians get their heads out of the sand and stop companies like Schlumberger from killing us all?”The protest group has said that the government must use the “historic opportunity” presented by coronavirus and the lockdown to tackle the climate emergency – as there has been a steep decline in the use of motorised vehicles, with many reports suggesting a positive impact on air quality.
“The UK government must do what all the scientists and even their own advisors are saying and act now before it is too late,” said Jamie.
“We are almost out of time, and now we have an opportunity to resructure the way we live away from damaging fossil fuels.
“The government could use the economic downturn to invest in green jobs, green infrastructure projects.
“Boris Johnson says he wants to ‘build back better’ but he doesn’t know the meaning of the phrase – all he has done is reallocate existing money to fix a small portion of the damage done by a decade of austerity imposed by his own government.
“The lies and spin have to stop – we need real action on the climate emergency.”