Labour has urged ministers to “get on with their jobs” and called for immediate nationwide injunctions to block Just Stop Oil protests arguing that demonstrations by the environmental activists have caused “misery” for motorists.
Highlighting data from the Campaign for Fair Fuel, which found that one in three petrol stations across southern England have been forced to close, Labour’s Steve Reed argued that ministers “need to sort it out”.
“Motorists were already being hammered by prices at the pump, and now millions can’t even access fuel. This is all happening on the government’s watch,” the Shadow Justice Secretary said this afternoon.
“The Conservatives need to stop standing idly by and put an end to this disruption that is causing misery for motorists.”
Just Stop Oil has been protesting around oil infrastructure in recent days. Climate activists broke into the country’s biggest inland oil terminal and chained themselves to pipes, bringing distribution to a halt, last week.
Activists have also disrupted football matches, with activists chaining themselves to the goal posts. The coalition of climate activists is demanding that the government halt new fossil fuel licensing and production.
According to the Campaign for Fair Fuel, 1,200 out of 8,378 pumps across the country are currently shut. Labour said a nationwide injunction would “simplify police operations by enabling them to more easily make arrests”.
A United Nations report published earlier this month found that the international community needs to ensure that global greenhouse gas emissions peak by 2025 to avert “catastrophic” temperature rises.
Antonio Guterres said that investing in new infrastructure relating to fossil fuel production was “moral and economic madness”. “Climate activists are sometimes depicted as dangerous radicals,” the UN secretary general added. “But the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing production of fossil fuels.”
Labour’s national executive committee member Mish Rahman described the party’s call for an injunction as “shameful”, especially as “the Tory government is already passing authoritarian legislation to curb our democratic rights”.
“This draconian move is a slap in the face for young people and all those concerned about the climate crisis, a demographic vital to Labour’s hopes of winning the next general election,” the Momentum national coordinating group members said.
Commenting on a UN climate report last year, which stated that it is “unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, oceans and land”, Keir Starmer warned that the “biggest threat we now face is not climate denial but climate delay”.
The UK government, along with many others, has pledged to reach net zero by 2050, which means reducing emissions as much as possible and offsetting the rest, but has been criticised for failing to match ambition with action.
Writing in The Guardian ahead of a visit to Scotland last year, Starmer accused Boris Johnson of being “missing in action” on the climate emergency, arguing that a “credible government now would be demonstrating serious ambition”.
He also committed the party to achieving the “substantial majority” of greenhouse gas emission cuts by 2030 during an interview with The Independent that same month, a pledge made by the previous Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.