Campaigners halt council meeting over “lack of action on fossil fuels”

190521 SCC meeting XR Godalming

Still from video filmed out side Surrey County Council headquarters at Kingston Upon Thames, 21 May 2019. XR Godalming

Surrey County Council interrupted its meeting today when campaigners, calling for a halt to oil drilling, began singing the hit song by The Police Every Breath You Take.

The campaigners from Surrey Extinction Rebellion groups had presented a letter which also called on the council to declare a climate emergency and divest the pension fund from the fossil fuel industry.

Outside the meeting in Kingston-upon-Thames, they had urged councillors to take urgent action.

The council leader, Tim Oliver, had told the meeting he was setting up a working party to develop an environmental charter to include climate change concerns.

He said:

“As a county council we are clear as to our responsibility to our environment.

“This group will also review the causes of traffic congestion which we know has a significant impact on air quality.

“I’m sure they will want to engage extensively with external organisations as they draw up a deliverable charter. Let’s see what we can do together to make a positive impact in this area.”

But councillors moved to another room after campaigners sang “I’ll be watching you” in protest at what they said was the lack of action on climate change.

In their letter, the groups criticised the council’s refusal to declare what it said was a meaningful climate emergency and the direct pension fund investment of £145m in the oil industry, despite a three-year campaign for divestment.

On planning permissions granted by the council for onshore oil extraction, the letter said this was:

“in defiance of public opinion, damaging climate and health, spoiling Surrey’s beautiful countryside and locking us in to decades of carbon emissions.”

The letter added:

“These policies represent a denial of the state of emergency and undermine the efforts made by other authorities and ordinary citizens to effect change. This cannot continue.”



24 replies »

  1. What a great idea to sing The Police’s” Every Breath You Take”?

    Wish I had thought of doing that?


  2. Very well, all those people protesting against fossil fuel because they prefer worldwide upscaling of climate destruction by mining activities.

  3. The Council leader personally assured on campaigner that he would scrutinise drilling applications and raise the fossil fuel divestment issue with the trustees.
    Credit is due for the right response, but swift action is essential.
    We’ll be watching you.

  4. Is that how democracy works then? If you don’t get your own way you interrupt the democratic process with childish tactics. I wonder how pleased the people of Surrey are that governance of their county is disrupted and delayed by interest groups.

    • If SCC did not show repeatedly they were an easy target and did something to efficiently balance their books-like encourage local industry to supplement their income-they might find that the people of Surrey were better served and interest groups were unable to hijack the process. Just lobbying by being disruptive. Yet, these groups moan about the fossil fuel companies “lobbying”. Hardly novel when they copy what they complain about. Might have something to do with the general public stating they have no wish to reduce their use of aircraft and few have an interest in purchasing an electric vehicle. Having failed to convince they now try to disrupt. Rather exposes the failure to convince.

    • Interest groups? So what is their interest? A cleaner and healthier world? Are you and the rest of Surrey against that?

      • Except Wandering, from a long way off, you fail to see that oil exploration in Surrey would replace oil imports into UK, namely at Fawley Refinery, which continues to expand.

        So, where does the cleaner and healthier world come from by replacing local oil/gas with imported that is transported thousands of miles creating environmental issues and the only “benefit” is to add to UKs creative carbon accounting that Greta worries about? Indeed, if UK reduced the amounts of oil and gas it imported by producing more within the UK then more focus would be placed upon the real carbon data and more encouragement to mitigate.

        The other nonsense around fossil fuel investment into pension funds is that the vast majority of those benefiting from a pension fund will no longer be employees of SCC, so they are the ones who will be instrumental in the way the Trustees will be allowed to place investments. You will find they will be a little miffed to think dividends from Shell will be replaced with absolutely no dividend from Tesla!

        What is their interest? Self promotion without any link to reality.

      • No Wandering, I am not against a cleaner and healthier world. No-one in their right mind would be. I am very much pro-environment. I am also pro-democracy. would you have been happy if some far right group had interrupted proceedings for some reason to try to influence a policy to further their interests? Presumably not – my point being that just because a point may have the moral high ground it does not excuse any sort of behaviour. Democracy may not be perfect, but it is what we have and when people (well meaning or otherwise) convince themselves that THEIR particular point of view is so obviously correct and so important that democracy should be subverted to their view, then that is a long slippery slope

        If Surrey council had a majority of Greens, then things would go in their favour. This is possible within the democratic process, so work to make that happen

    • XR stands with the UN, David Attenborough, and climate scientists in recognising that we are in the last few years when action is still possible to prevent unstoppable climate heating.

      While investors here focus on talking up the dire share prices, “interest groups” like XR are concerned with saving as much of existence as is still possible.

      • Wrong again!

        Apart from the small point that if something is unstoppable. ermm, you will not stop it, there is also the point that you assume some are “investors” because they disagree with you.

        Suggest you try harder to make valid points rather than try and speculate and fabricate about others motives in an attempt to claim moral superiority. For all we know, you could be a disgruntled investor in alternative energy trying to undermine the competition or maybe an overseas supplier of oil who wishes to maintain an export market-that would really turn up Trumps! (Maybe not satisfied with 372k barrels per day to UK?)

        Making up stuff that you believe can then be targeted and excite a few really does expose your own lack of confidence.

        • Did you miss the bit “we are in the last few years when action is still possible”? 12 years left according to the IPPC (more like 11 now) do look it up, and the weight of science behind it.

          • So, you are amending your incorrect text of it being unstoppable!

            Fine. How many other parts of your text should we feel are incorrect? Oh, the bit about investors. Any more?

            You obviously have no truck with the science that says by 2030 changes to solar activity will be producing a mini ice age?

            • No, I’m not amending it, that’s what I wrote in the first place. I think you misunderstood it.

              If there is not a massive change in global emissions and in other behaviours (deforestation etc.) the resulting temperature increases will mean we will reach reach certain tipping points that will trigger run away climate heating, but we do still have a window of opportunity to prevent this happening.

              Does my meaning make sense now, Martin?

              I respectfully suggest you research what climate tipping points are, or go to a ‘Heading for extinction talk’ near you.

              • Did you miss that in Year 1 of Doomsday the UK has just experienced the coldest May in decades? A lot of catching up in the next 9 years!

                If you want a massive change in global emissions, then one quick step is to stop adding to them where alternatives currently exist. So, lets produce oil in the Weald and stop transporting it thousands of miles adding to emissions when rapid replacement of source makes an instant impact. Current suggestions for carbon zero, many that are nuts, would have no impact within 9-10 years, yet you work against plans that would. How about the vast quantity of diesel imported into the UK creating more emissions during transport? That could be adjusted pretty quickly, as soon as Fawley have completed their proposed investment.

                If you still want a massive change you are looking at the wrong country. The UK generates barely 1% of annual global CO2 emissions. Based upon accepted links between manmade emissions, if UK waved a magic wand to carbon zero it would adjust global temperature in 2040 by 0.005 degrees. The man who can’t eat a bacon sandwich advocates others will follow UK good example! That idea is pathetic and only goes to show the low standard of those who we pay.

                Sorry. I will recognise that I will be using gas and oil certainly during the next decade, so I will continue to take an interest in where that comes from and optimum sources for not only the environment but also security and the public purse to allow for mitigation of higher fuel prices that are inevitable due to world population.

                • Coldest May in decades? Please don’t kid yourself Martin, it’s not all going to OK as long as the fossil fuel isn’t shipped in.

                  The hottest 4 years since records began have been in the last 5 years. This graphic is annual global temperatures since 1850 as colours. And the rate of change is increasing rapidly.

Leave a Reply to Martin Collyer Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s