Members of Extinction Rebellion Glasgow, Divest Strathclyde, Fossil Free COP and the Green Anti-Capitalist Front have disrupted the BP-sponsored “Think-In” hosted by Tortoise Media this evening (10 March 2020) at the University of Glasgow.
The event’s title “Whose job is it to fight climate change – activists, voters or the people they elect?” was clear enough: this ‘ThinkIn’ was not BP taking any responsibility for their own significant contribution to the Climate and Ecological Emergency.
BP have no interest in taking responsibility for their contribution, in fact they are projected to increase their production of fossil fuels by 20% over the next ten years. Events such as the Tortoise ThinkIn are an attempt to misdirect our attention onto individual action, and ‘greenwash’ their image.
In protest, activists commandeered the platform that the University of Glasgow had afforded BP and held them directly accountable.
The activists spoke about a number of topics relating to BP, the fossil fuel industry and the current climate and ecological crisis (extracts below). Meanwhile, several activists unfurled a banner reading “Fuelling our Extinction”.
Tortoise Media have run a number of ‘Think Ins’ on the subject of climate activism in Edinburgh and Newcastle in addition to the Glasgow one. These have drawn backlash from activism groups for their BP sponsorship, including one event being cancelled at Newcastle University after a petition was compiled by People and Planet Newcastle.
Joe, 20 commented; “We are carrying out this disruption to protest BP’s history of ecocide and their blatant attempts to greenwash their image. This is our University and we are frankly ashamed that they would consider holding such an event. More importantly, this is our planet and our future and we are prepared to do anything to protect that.”
Scott Tully, 28, said; “We should remember that BP have no intention of discontinuing their hundreds of extractive projects across the world. Instead, they would rather invest in a green image to create the illusion that they are taking the problem they created seriously. We are here to signal that with the UN COP26 coming to Glasgow that big polluters are not welcome in our city. They have no social licence to set any of the agenda in climate negotiations and us at Fossil Free COP26 will challenge them all the way.”
Extracts from speeches
“Early last year, BP launched a global PR campaign under the rubric ‘possibilities everywhere’, which paints the company as committed to a cleaner, greener future… you’d be forgiven for thinking that renewable energy is now a core component of BP’s business strategy. You might think that the fossil fuel industry is investing heavily in a greener future. You would be wrong”.
“The International Energy Agency (IEA), which keeps tabs on all the major players in the industry, released a report in January which shows that renewable energy and carbon capture technologies currently represent just under 1 percent of the industry’s investments. BP does slightly better than some of its competitors, with clean energy amounting to about 3 percent of the company’s total capital expenditure”
Both from Meehan Crist in London Review of Books.
“In 2011, BP were responsible for the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. 11 people were killed, 4.9 million barrels discharged. Government reports found BP primarily responsible blaming a series of cost cutting decisions and inadequate safety system. A District Court ruling in 2014 found that BP was primarily responsible due to gross negligence and reckless conduct.”
“Since 2010, the world’s 5 biggest publicly traded oil and gas companies, and their Brussels based fossil fuel lobby groups, have declared spending over a quarter of a billion euros on lobbying the EU including to delay, weaken and sabotage climate action – they declared spending €123.3 million on lobbying the EU between 2010 and 2018, with their 13 fossil fuel related lobby groups declared an extra €128 million.”