"Watch this space - scientists are refusing to be bystanders anymore”
Over one hundred experts from across the country came together yesterday in the UK’s largest ever climate protest by scientists to demand MPs say no to new oil and gas.
This July the government approved the licensing of 100 new oil and gas fields, as Rishi Sunak pledged he would “max out” the UK’s oil and gas reserves in a move blasted catastrophic by experts.
Now climate change experts have left their labs to take to the streets of Westminster to tell the Prime Minister and MPs that the plans are just not feasible, and that they must listen to the science.
Campaigner and scientist Emma Smart told Left Foot Forward why scientists were taking action, many for the first time.
“There were nerves and apprehension about taking this step up into direct action but it was an empowering experience,” said Smart.
“The media coverage alone shows that we have gone past the days of hoping the science we write will reach decision makers and members of the public who vote for them.”
Reflecting on the march she said: “There was an overall enthusiasm for ‘what next’, with many motivated both by their fellow scientists and a refusal of many MPs to engage with scientists in their constituency.”
Scientists like Smart have been sounding the alarm about global warming for decades, but felt the lack of response from elected representatives has resulted “in the crisis that’s now at our door”.
“The government isn’t acting on the science- the truth- and the media aren’t reporting it, consequently the public are not aware of the scale or urgency of what we are currently facing”, said Smart.
“But scientists are acutely aware, even if their discipline isn’t directly climate science. That’s why many are moving from publication to public action, for they feel it is now their duty in a climate crisis to not just write science, but to shout it from the streets.
“Historically, non-violent direct action has delivered the necessary pressure on these ‘pillars of power’ and now scientists are leaving their labs and taking to the streets to drive the change we so desperately need.”
She added: “Watch this space – scientists are refusing to be bystanders anymore.”
Broadcaster and naturalist Chris Packham annouced that the ‘oil party is over’, as he urged the government to listen to the experts, before it’s too late.
“Sadly telling the truth has not been enough,” said Packham. “It’s now become necessary for scientists to shout the truth about climate breakdown. All we ask is that that our principal decisions makers listen before the screaming starts.”
Greeting MPs as they returned from recess, protesters encouraged ministers to discuss with them the impacts of new fossil fuel projects and why they are not compatible for legally binding climate commitments. They said they were also available to dispell climate myths that may be holding back essential transitions.
(Image credit: Sennen Powell)
Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues