Thousands of parents call on Rishi Sunak to stop new oil and gas field

Parents and their children take Halloween themed action outside Downing Street over climate fears

Parents and their children made a Halloween themed visit to Downing Street calling on the government to stop the controversial Rosebank oil and gas field.

Nearly 7,000 parents and carers have signed a petition demanding the UK and Norwegian governments stop the offshore oil development Rosebank, which was given government approval in September despite widespread anger and disapproval.

A group of campaigners from the parent-led climate group Parents for Future handed the petition to Downing Street on Monday before visiting the Norwegian Embassy to call out Norway’s state-owned energy company Equinor who is behind the huge oil field operation.

Parents talked to LFF about why the older generation must take greater action over the climate emergency, and how Rishi Sunak’s climate policies were what was really scaring them this Halloween.

Parents for Future campaigner Raeeka felt her generation had been “conned” into thinking that, if they recycled, everything would be okay.

“Our responsibility is to wake up parents and carers our age who were told all the lies and the rubbish and say, none of that was true” Raeeka told LFF.

“We all have to take climate action because we can’t leave it to the young protesters. They need to feel our solidarity, and our kids need to know that we’re trying to protect the planet.”

Parents for Futures started in 2019 after Greta Thunberg began her Fridays for Futures school strikes. It has rapidly expanded to include over 25,000 supporters, with more action planned through the winter months.

“When I decided to have a child, I made a commitment to join the climate movement,” Raeeka said.

“It was the year that the IPCC report came out that said we had around a decade to try and prevent irreversible tipping points. My child is now five, so we haven’t got that many years left.

“As a minimum, I need to be able to look my kid in the eye and say, I did my best.”

Parents expressed concerns for the growing climate anxiety affecting young people, as well as fears about what kind of world their children will grow up into.

“We’re moving towards unliveable temperatures, and that’s really scary as a parent, to know that when our children will be our age, the food and water systems might not be there,” said Raeeka.

“The future that they’re moving towards is really terrifying, so much more scary than a ghost outfit. Now we’re scary this Halloween because we’re going to stand against the real fear, which is opening new oil and gas fields.”

Rosebank oil field is expected to produce more emissions than the annual CO2 of the 28 lowest-income countries combined. Whilst Rishi Sunak is expected to use next week’s king’s speech to advance the expansion of North Sea oil exploration.

This is despite climate experts saying there is no room for new oil and gas expansion anywhere in the world if the 2050 net-zero target is to be reached. Whilst it was revealed that, from the 12 new fields licensed by the Tories since 2010, just 16 days of gas had been produced as a result.

Co-Director of the campaign movement, Charlotte Howell-Jones, stressed that the new oil field would do nothing to lower families bills this winter, however will have a “catastrophic impact on our emissions”.

“Instead of approving new fossil fuels projects the government should be investing in cheaper, homegrown renewable energy, to bring down energy bills in the UK as well as our carbon emissions.

“Rishi Sunak needs to stop Rosebank and stop u-turning on net zero commitments if he wants to win the votes of parents across the country at the next general election,” said Charlotte.

She adde that there was a common narrative from the older generation who believed that climate activism could be left to the next generation, but she argued “we haven’t got time to do that”.

“We need to be passing them on a liveable future and doing it ourselves. So the parents need to step up now and act.”

(Image credit: Parents for Future)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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