Extinction Rebellion's city protest calls for climate accountability

Climate activist group Extinction Rebellion made their voices heard in a passionate march for change around Newcastle.

Ross Bennett
23rd October 2023
Image credit- Sanni Ratamo.
With a goal of holding Newcastle University accountable for its connections to the fossil fuel industry and other sources of environmental destruction, the Stop Rosebank campaign did a damn good job of pointing out our university and government’s failures to uphold its sustainability policies.

Once heralded as the most sustainable university in the UK (8th most in the world), in the most recent QR sustainability rankings Newcastle University has slipped to 4th in the UK and 18th Worldwide. While relatively impressive when put amongst other universities, Newcastle still has a hell of a long way to go as protestors pointed out. However, this University seems to be doing miles better than Rishi Sunak’s current government.

An issue incredibly pertinent to the climate agenda of our country in these times is the development of Rosebank Oil Field, the largest untapped oil reserve in the United Kingdom. In an application made by Norwegian energy company 'Equinor', the suggested plans to drill for oil would be supported by Tax Breaks the British public would be paying for. This is when there are no current plans for this increase in oil to lower fuel prices in the UK.

Finances aside, the greater cost would be the damage this would cause to our planet. Burning the oil and gas at Rosebank would produce over 200 million tonnes of Co2, more than combined yearly CO2 emissions of all 28 low-income countries in the world – more than what is produced by 700 million people.

When asked about the aims of the march, the president of the XR society – Roxanne Clarkson – had this to say:

We are coming together to make it clear to Sunak and the government that we will not stand for them throwing our futures away.”

Roxanne Clarkson

“We are already in a state of climate emergency; the government allowing the Rosebank oil field project to go ahead is a clear display of irresponsibility and complete disregard for our future."

This was not simply an Extinction Rebellion protest though, those from all walks of life attended as noted by Clarkson: “It wasn’t just Extinction Rebellion Society protesting, students ranging from Amnesty Society to Feminist Society were there, as well as those not in societies and other community groups from Newcastle”.

Image of three students holding up sign saying 'Resist'.
Photo of Image credit- Erin

With an issue so dire and with our planet’s future at stake, it’s no wonder so much fuss was kicked up. The scrawled caricature of woke and angry students protesting against pollution has been so ingrained in our minds by the Conservatives, that the British public has almost drifted off to slumber whilst our world is pillaged by fossil fuel egoists.

Well, thankfully we have Extinction Rebellion to kick us up the arse and say what’s needed to be said:

Not on Our Watch.

Hopefully, the government will not ignore us this time.

Correction: Original article stated that it the protest was organised by Extinction Rebellion. That was incorrect, the protest was organised by a coalition of groups (XR included) operating as part of the Stop Rosebank Campaign.

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