On November 1st, on their official site, the activist movement Just Stop Oil released a statement announcing a momentaneous pause in their activities until November 4th, waiting for a concrete response from the UK's government.
In the presumed worst-case scenario of not receiving a ministers' response, the movement has already announced further escalation. Their action will be "proportionate to the task of stopping the crime against humanity (...)" as reported in their official handout.
What is Just Stop Oil?
Just Stop Oil is a UK group of environmental activists involved in the fight against licensing, using, and producing fossil fuels. Besides fossil oil and carbon consumption, their protest aim is to spread awareness of the risk and effects of climate change, capture the attention of governments and citizens, and inspire a different UK budget allocation which favors a green economy instead investing in non-renewable resources.
The activist group have taken their protest action to another level compared to previous Britannic movements like Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain, who have also aimed at cultural institutions. Like these groups, the methods and nature of their demonstrations remain non-violent and based on civil disobedience, largely in the form of peaceful protests which disobey laws without harming anyone.
With Just Stop Oil being an activist, non-profit movement, their funding comes from private donations. The primary donor is the American Climate Emergency Fund (CEF), founded by Aileen Getty, granddaughter of Jean Paul Getty (who used to be the founder and tycoon of the eponymous Getty Oil company). Allegedly, the fund have donated over 1 million US dollars to the cause.
What are their initiatives?
The group, starting in February 2022, developed a series of disruptive, non-violent protests that caught the attention of the media and people around the globe. The actions range from pitch invasions during ongoing football matches to blocking oil facilities or oil tankers and sitting on the tarmac, creating traffic congestion.
Their move that has gained the most media attention has been, without doubt, attacking art in museums. Many historical paintings like "Girl with a Pearl Earring" by Vermeer or "Sunflowers" by Van Gogh have been the chosen target for the action, with the activists throwing tomato sauce or gluing themselves to the paintings.
After the defiant act - an attention catalyzer - there is always a message, a call for the government. They invite whoever is in charge to focus on the environmental impact of oil and fossil fuels utilization, avoiding future licensing and blocking the current ones. This warning looks like blackmail: they won't stop until the authority's stance is in line with their requests.
Spreading their messsge on social media enlarges their media power and helps more people become conscious of the health and environmental impact of leaving the oil situation unchanged. Nevertheless, the attack on such creations of cultural heritage enhances the risk of becoming the enemy, rather than the ally, in the popular narrative
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