Direct Actions Across UK Disrupt Fossil Fuel Business-As-Usual

Activists outside London City Hall erected this fracking 'rig' to protest Mayor Boris Johnson's support for fracking and natural gas extraction and his recent dismissal of calls to divest the city pension fund from fossil fuel industries. (Photo: No Dash for Gas)

Direct Actions Across UK Disrupt Fossil Fuel Business-As-Usual

Day of action targets climate change profiteers, and the government officials who are backing them

Anti-drilling activists across England sent a powerful message on Monday with a series of direct actions protesting the Cameron government's promotion of "false solutions," such as fracking, and the industries that are profiting in the face of runaway climate change.

Among the 18 targets on Monday were London's National Gallery, David Cameron's constituency office, London City Hall, public relations firms that represent fracking and nuclear power companies, a World Coal Association conference, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), and various corporations which activists say are complicit in the global rise of carbon emissions.

Many of those who participated in the direct actions are also members of the Reclaim the Power mass action camp, which began this weekend near the Didcot power station in Oxfordshire. The group is holding a series of workshops and debates at the camp this week on the future of energy in the United Kingdom. The actions come amid a government push to expand fracking, as well as construct up to 30 new gas-fired power stations across the country.

"The government's plans for new gas power stations across the UK are not compatible with stopping runaway climate change or bringing down the bills for people living in fuel poverty," said Hannah Martin of Reclaim the Power. "Fossil fuels are destroying our future and already causing thousands of deaths from climate change and fuel poverty."

At least seven people were arrested during the day of action on Monday.

In London, activists blockaded the doors of the World Coal Association conference on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). According to eyewitness accounts, some of the protesters "mooned" conference participants, displaying the message: "Wind Not Gas."

Politicians and the fossil fuel industry have branded CCS technology as "clean coal," however, critics say such innovations are only a "smoke screen for the necessary action needed on climate change."

In a press statement, protester Sam Taylor said: "Despite the coal industry's desperate attempts, coal and other fossil fuels will never be clean and prevent the vital investments we need in renewables. CCS is a sticking plaster for our broken energy system: the government needs to stop subsidizing fossil fuels, and we need a full transition to renewables now."

In the Van Gogh 'Sunflowers' room at the National Gallery, 30 campaigners staged a surprise protest performance, highlighting the museum's controversial funding relationship with oil giant Shell, as well as plans to privatize the museum staff.

According to organizers:

The performance began with two "Shell executives" giving a speech to surprised gallery visitors, explaining how happy they were to be using arts sponsorship to distract attention from Shell's destructive extraction activities and contribution to climate change. The fake executives explained how "with this sponsorship the public will associate us more with art than Arctic drilling". They also praised the Gallery's plans to outsource up to two-thirds of its staff, calling it "a real commitment to privatisation; we fully support this attack on workers' rights".

Activists in Oxfordshire held a 'love-in' outside the Conservative party office, where they unfurled a banner that reads, "David Cameron in bed with the Big Six"--referring to the UK's six largest energy companies, whose profit has reportedly increased tenfold between 2007 and 2013.

A complete run-down of the days actions can be found here in while other images and updates are being shared online under the hashtag #ReclaimthePower.

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