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Just Stop Oil protesters
Photograph: William Joshua Templeton /

Just Stop Oil: the climate change activists causing havoc across the UK

They’ve thrown soup at a van Gogh, glued themselves to the road and scaled a bridge in Kent. Why?

Written by
Faima Bakar

By now you’ll have seen the can of tomato soup being thrown at van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers by Just Stop Oil protesters. The climate change campaigners have been all over the news over the past few days, and have certainly polarised opinion. While some appreciate that protests are supposed to be disruptive, others have struggled to make the connection between their actions and the cause. So who exactly are Just Stop Oil and what are they fighting for?

Who are Just Stop Oil?

According to their official website, Just Stop Oil is a coalition of groups working together to ensure that the government commits to ending all new licences for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK. The group, which formed in April, has been carrying out more than a fortnight of continuous disruption.  

What protests have Just Stop Oil been taking part in?

The soup being thrown at the van Gogh painting was easily their most headline-grabbing moment, but the group has also been gluing themselves to paintings to spread their message.

As of 5am this morning (October 17) two Just Stop Oil supporters have climbed to the top of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge at the Dartford Crossing between Essex and Kent, forcing its closure. In recent weeks, they’ve also blocked Shoreditch High Street in London by gluing themselves to the tarmac, as well as Park Lane and streets in Westminster.

What do Just Stop Oil want?

The protesters are calling for the end of our reliance on fossil fuels completely. They are fighting for the government to power ahead with investment in renewables, and want our buildings to be better insulated (so they waste less energy). They also want people to rethink how they travel, and cut usage of planes and private cars.

Why have the activists been getting arrested?

Since the group was founded in April, Just Stop Oil protesters have been arrested more than 1,700 times, with five members currently in prison. 

The reasons behind the arrests are varied. The Met Police said 26 people were arrested for wilful obstruction of the highway after the Shoreditch protest and 54 after the Westminster demonstrations. The two protesters who threw soup at the van Gogh painting have been charged with criminal damage

It’s likely further Just Stop Oil protests will take place throughout the month.

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