Climate campaigners, including two British Olympians, blockaded the entrance to the UK’s largest oil refinery early this morning.
Sailor Laura Baldwin and gold medal winning canoeist Etienne Stott were among about 15 activists from Extinction Rebellion at the site at Fawley in Hampshire.
The group said protesters cut the electrified perimeter fence. Some activists have locked on to structures across the site, the group said. Others have scaled two 50ft oil tanks to unfurl banners reading Climate Emergency and No future in fossil fuels.
Extinction Rebellion’s pink boat, Beverly Geronimo, has been parked across the main entrance to the refinery.
Laura Baldwin said on Twitter
“I am a deeply protective mother, moved to take non violent direct action in a desperate bid to force this suicidal system to change in time, to limit the climate crisis worsening & slipping past the point of no return.”
Etienne Stott, awarded an MBE in 2013, tweeted:
Today I’m protesting to expose how ExxonMobil are investing heavily to expand fossil fuel extraction when we need to be doing the opposite. And their expert #Greenwash machine is in full swing to convince us that they aren’t actually maximising profit whilst out planet burns.
I’m calling on our government to rein in these rogue companies. It’s 3 days before COP26 & there is no future in fossil fuel if we are going to keep our planet alive. Our leaders to step up, Act now and protect our future.
The action comes three days before the opening of the COP26 climate talks, hosted by the UK government in Glasgow.
Extinction Rebellion is demanding that the UK government bans all fossil fuel investments.
The group is also critical of ExxonMobil’s expansion of diesel refining at Fawley.
BREAKING: Two Olympians are on #ExtinctionRebellion‘s Pink Boat, blockading the main entrance to the UK’s biggest Oil Refinery at Fawley in #Hampshire.#NoFutureInFossilFuels@EtienneStott @GreensActivist @Reuters @AP @TeamGB pic.twitter.com/ptPYPXsTAv
— XR South East UK (@XrSouthEastUK) October 28, 2021
In a statement this morning, the group said:
“ExxonMobil have known about the devastating effects of fossil fuel production on the environment for over 40 years but instead of acting responsibly on that knowledge, they’ve spent tens of millions funding climate denial and misinformaton and obstructing a transition to cleaner energy sources.
“Only decarbonisation of our economies will limit the scale of death, destruction and mass extinction that climate change will bring in decades to come, the effects of which are already being felt around the world.”
Michael, 59 from Somerset, said he was taking part in the protest because of the damage people were causing to the world.
“We need our government to take immediate action now. The UN has issued multiple warnings but our government, global governments, are refusing to pay any attention. They are refusing to take the real, meaningful steps. They continue throwing greenwash at us and I can’t take it any more.”
ExxonMobil said the protest had not disrupted operations at Fawley. A spokesperson said:
ExxonMobil believes that climate change risks warrant action and it’s going to take all of us – business, governments and consumers – to make meaningful progress.
“Our focus includes reducing our emissions, helping consumers reduce their emissions, and developing lower-emission energy solutions, including energy efficiency initiatives, biofuels, flare reduction and carbon capture and storage (CCS).
“At Fawley, we are also directly helping motorists and farmers to reduce their emissions through the manufacturing of lower carbon fuels, and we are also producing the lubricants and chemicals that support lower emissions by use across a range of applications such as wind turbines and electric vehicles.
“Furthermore, our chemicals play a vital role in our daily lives, from medical equipment to clothing, cleaning materials and healthcare products.
“We respect the right to peaceful protest, but our priority is the safety of our people, our neighbours and our operations and we are working with Hampshire Police to ensure this is maintained.
“ExxonMobil Fawley continues to operate safely and is not experiencing any impact on production.
“We apologise to anyone from the local community or beyond experiencing any inconvenience resulting from the actions at Fawley today of this group.”
We’ll update with more details and reaction as we get it.