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Just Stop Oil protestors stage banner drop at Torpids

Student supporters of Just Stop Oil staged a banner drop on the final day of the Torpids boat race to draw attention to the escalating global energy crisis and climate emergency.

At approximately 1pm on Saturday 25th February, a large orange banner with the Just Stop Oil logo was hung from a bridge next to the racecourse. The student protestors are demanding that the government commit to ending all new oil and gas projects in the UK, and are also keen for the University and its members to join the movement in peaceful civil resilience. 

Daniel, a biochemistry student at New College who was involved in the banner drop, told Cherwell: “We were hoping to announce our presence to the student community and encourage students to join our group. We find the apathy of many students shocking and saddening.”

When asked whether there would be further Just Stop Oil action in Oxford, Daniel told Cherwell: “There will be plenty of protests and events over the next few months. The banner may be reappearing around Oxford over the next few weeks and a slow march is coming in the next month, but the date is unconfirmed right now.”

First seen in London last year, the group’s ‘slow march’ tactic is a form of protest designed to block roads and bring traffic to a standstill.

Ollie, a biology student at Keble who was also present at the protest action, expressed his frustration with the UK government’s approach to tackling environmental issues: “Inaction on the climate crisis threatens everything we know and love. If the government continues to license new oil projects, we will not have a future in which to enjoy sporting events such as Torpids. I am taking direct action because it’s the only way to force the change that we need in the short timescale that we need it.”

Extinction Rebellion Oxford also displayed their support of the banner drop. April Jones, Extinction Rebellion’s Oxford coordinator, told Cherwell: “There are a range of views on Just Stop Oil within Extinction Rebellion Oxford, but broadly, we have respect and gratitude for their efforts to halt the climate and ecological destruction that threatens us all. Every action that brings attention to the crisis, such as the banner drop on Saturday, is appreciated.”

The Just Stop Oil campaign was launched in February 2022 and has waged non-violent civil resistance through tactics such as strikes, boycotts, mass protests and disruption across the country. Among the most notable acts of resistance by the group are incidents of vandalism, such as the throwing of tomato soup at one of Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers paintings in London’s National Gallery, and the spray-painting of the exterior of the Aston Martin showroom on Park Lane.

Protestors have also attempted to disrupt football matches, the BAFTA awards and the British Grand Prix. According to the group, more than 2,000 arrests have been made during their protests over the past year.

Determined that the national reliance on fossil fuels needs to end in the next eight years, Just Stop Oil believes that energy demand needs to be cut by insulating Britain and providing free public transport across the country, enabling a switch from fossil fuels to clean energy. This year alone, the government plans to issue at least 100 new oil and gas licenses across the country, and UK subsidies for the production and consumption of fossil fuels have recently amounted to £12 billion a year.

Just Stop Oil will host a talk in Oxford on Thursday 9th March titled ‘Our Responsibilities at This Time’. The talk will focus on “civil resistance to climate chaos in 2023” and will be held at the St Aldates Tavern from 7pm to 9pm.

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