July 3, 2022

Just Stop Oil: Activists says they have ‘a duty to protest’

“I found myself feeling just so completely and utterly helpless, and realised I had to take action.”

Claudia Penna Rojas became a part of climate activist group Just Stop Oil in February.

You might know them for their protest actions which have included tying themselves to football goalposts, climbing on oil tankers and stopping traffic.

“I was aware of global warming as an issue, but the urgency of the situation has sunk in,” 24-year-old Claudia tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

Many of the impacts of global warming are now simply “irreversible”, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with their scientific reports being described as “a code red for humanity” by the UN Secretary General António Guterres.

“The idea of bringing a child into this world, just feel so utterly unfair. And that’s no judgement to people who have children,” Claudia says
Just Stop Oil describe themselves as a “coalition of groups working together” to demand the government stop the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels – like oil, gas and coal – in the UK.

It has divided opinion, with some criticising their disruptive tactics and others praising them for raising attention.

Methods such as strikes, boycotts and mass protests – often used by climate protest groups to make their point – have been criticised for being extreme, “selfish” and creating too much disruption to people’s lives.

Members of the group have broken the law and been arrested for offences such as criminal damage.

Some politicians have condemned the group’s tactics for causing lives to be “brought to a standstill”.

Newsbeat has been finding out more from the individuals involved in the group.

‘It feels like a duty’
Claudia moved to the UK aged eight, from Chile, where most of her family still live. She says Chile has faced “mega droughts” for many years, and believes it’s a result of climate change.

“People don’t have access to water and I’m terrified that within the next few years, my family could be struggling to survive.”

“Now’s the time where we have to give it absolutely everything. It doesn’t really feel like a choice, it feels like a duty.”

She hoped one day to have a family of her own, but doesn’t think that’ll happen because of the climate crisis, saying it “feels unfair” to bring a child into “this world”.

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For Zak, he was living “a normal child’s life’, when he started to see “there was injustice in the world” from the age of 12.
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“I thought what I’ve been doing for the past two years in the animal rights movement, it’s not achieved much change,” the 15-year-old says.

“I was looking to get involved in action, which is going to create change.”

Zak says he’s always tried to “help people” and “wanted to be a paramedic” growing up
Zak joined the group after being inspired by the Insulate Britain campaign, who were known for gluing themselves to the motorway and stopping traffic.

Xanthe Flynn, who uses the pronouns they/them, says they don’t like to “call it activism because it’s my whole life”.

“It’s not just a protest that you go and do, and then you go back to your safe space,” the 18-year-old says.

“It’s also been a massive learning space. Because I didn’t get taught really about this in school.”