Extinction Rebellion: activists 'pour oil' down steps of Labour HQ to demand oil and gas licences be overturned

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One activist chained himself to a handrail, while two others have scaled the building's portico

Climate activists have targeted the Labour Party headquarters, pouring fake oil down the front steps and scaling the building to set off smoke bombs, to demand the party cancels new fossil fuel licences if it comes into power at the next election.

Staff arriving on Monday morning (18 September) to the Blackfriars Road offices in London were confronted by a group of Extinction Rebellion protesters, many with banners saying "Labour: Cut The Ties to Fossil Fuels".

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One activist had chained himself to a handrail, while two others had scaled the building's portico. They were demanding that, if Labour wins the next general election, it must do more than stop issuing new oil licenses - by cancelling any licenses granted by the Conservatives before the election.

This comes after the UK government announced it would issue more than a hundred new licences for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, despite maintaining that its goal was still to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Pundits expect the government will soon approve Rosebank, which the BBC reports would be the UK's largest oil and gas field.

Extinction Rebellion activists at the Labour headquarters on Monday (Photo: Luke Flegg/Supplied)Extinction Rebellion activists at the Labour headquarters on Monday (Photo: Luke Flegg/Supplied)
Extinction Rebellion activists at the Labour headquarters on Monday (Photo: Luke Flegg/Supplied) | Luke Flegg/Extinction Rebellion

Experts, activists, and the Green Party have warned the move would pour more fuel on the climate change fire, but Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said he would not revoke the licences if elected, because he takes "investor certainty and legal obligations seriously".

One of the Extinction Rebellion activists, 68-year-old Marcus Bailie from South Wales, said: "We demand an end to all new fossil fuel licences, including cancelling any awarded by this zombie Tory government before the next election.

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"Emissions must peak by 2025, opening a huge new oilfield like Rosebank would make that impossible. Starmer should be warning fossil fuel companies now that any new licences will become stranded assets," he continued.

The protesters were also demanding a commitment to make the transition to renewables an urgent priority for a new Labour government, so that it has a mandate for radical change should it win.

Activist Heather Wilde, 18, from Lincoln, added: "I am terrified for my future, our leaders have totally let down my generation. Labour has scaled down its commitment to fund the transition to clean energy, saying it will wait until the economy grows first.".

She said that so long as fossil fuel use kept growing, so too would greenhouse gas emissions. "We cannot afford more delay, we demand immediate action on climate breakdown from a new Labour administration."

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A Metropolitan Police spokesman said officers arrived on scene while the demonstration was still in progress, to find one person had locked themselves onto a pillar on the building while two people had scaled the canopy outside.

"Specially trained protest removal teams made sure protesters were removed from the building quickly and safely," they added. "Two men have been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and remain in police custody at this time."

This is the second time in three days that Labour has been targeted by climate activists. On Saturday's Fight To End Fossil Fuels march (16 September) another Extinction Rebellion action near Parliament Square saw a group parodying Starmer.

An Extinction Rebellion spokesperson said a figure dressed like Margaret Thatcher but wearing a lifelike Keir Starmer mask shared black "oil" from an oversized champagne bottle with executives from Equinor, Shell, BP, ExxonMobil and Ineos, who stuffed "Prime Minister Statcher’s" handbag full of cash.

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