Olympic athletes among Extinction Rebellion protesters at ExxonMobil oil refinery

The activists are calling on the government to end all fossil fuel investments.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) protesters have scaled a 15m silo at the UK’s largest oil refinery in protest of the government’s fossil fuel investments.

Members of the activist group, including Olympic athletes Laura Baldwin and Etienne Stott, blockaded the entrance to Fawley Oil terminal in Hampshire on Thursday, while others locked themselves to structures on the site.

They are calling on the government to take urgent action on the climate and ecological emergency and for ExxonMobil, who own the site, to to stop plans for a major expansion to the refinery.

The activists at Fawley are calling on the government to end all fossil fuel investments ahead of the UN climate summit, COP26, which starts in Glasgow tomorrow.

They said the move would strengthen the government’s hand in demanding radical action from world leaders.

Around 6:30am, around 15 protesters cut the electric fence surrounding the refinery and gained access to the site.

Seven protesters climbed oil containers and hung banners that read “Climate Emergency” and “No Future in Fossil Fuels” while other members of the group spread out across the site, locking themselves in place.

A third group, including Baldwin and Stott, blockaded the main entrance to the site by chaining themselves to a pink boat.

Stott, who won a gold medal for canoeing at the London 2012 Olympics, said: “I think it’s totally wrong that oil companies continue to put their profits ahead of everyone’s right to a future on a living planet. 

“We need our government to rein in these rogue companies as a matter of urgency and show to the world ahead of COP26 that the U.K. is prepared to take a genuine leadership position.”

“Watching Joe Lycett’s documentary on Channel 4 this week made me realise just how dishonest these fossil fuel giants are being, and it motivated me to get onboard with this action today to continue to highlight the corruption and apply pressure where it’s needed.”

Baldwin, who competed in the sailing in the Athens games in 2004, said that the fact that taxpayers were funding the oil industry though subsidies was “absurd” and that it “must stop now”.

She said: “Watching the news this summer was horrifying and heartbreaking, witnessing catastrophic climate impacts killing people on every continent of the globe.”

“I am a deeply protective mother, moved to take direct action in a desperate bid to force this suicidal system to change in time to limit the climate crisis worsening and slipping past the point of no return. 

Exxon said that production at the site, which produces almost one fifth of the fuel used by UK vehicles, was not affected by the protest.

Hampshire Constabulary confirmed that no arrests were made and that the protestors left around 3pm.

In 2019, Stott refused to follow police orders and leave an XR protest at Waterloo Bridge and was later found guilty of a public order offence.

At the City of London Magistrates’ Court in January last year he said that his actions were driven by a “sense of fear” and a “sense of duty”.

He said: “As a good person, with a voice and a platform, I feel it was my duty to act in the way that I did.”

Alexandra Warren is a freelance journalist.

Comments are closed.