September 30, 2023
From Socialist Worker (UK)

A crowd shot of people behind a yellow solidarity with climate refugees banner illustrating a story about Rosebank

Protesters marched in solidarity with climate refugees (Picture: Alan Kenny)

Around 300 protesters raged against the Tories and the fossil fuel companies in London on Saturday after the government approved the construction of the Rosebank oil field. 

Rosebank, west of Shetland, is Britain’s biggest undeveloped oil field. And, if plans go ahead, it could pump out as much as 200 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year. 

Protester Georgina told Socialist Worker that she felt like she “had to be out on the streets”. “The Tories are ditching all their promises because of money,” she said. “When these decisions get made, I often feel very powerless. 

“It’s not as if ordinary people are asked whether we want new fossil fuel projects. But being out with others on the streets helps, even if just a little bit.” 

Just Stop Oil activist Trudi Warner—who’s just been charged with contempt of court for holding up a sign supporting the independence of juries—slammed the Tories as “dishonest”. “Sunak says he’s a climate leader, but it’s all lies,” she said. 

“They are cynically using the argument about maintaining energy security. But we know our bills won’t be lower if Rosebank goes ahead. All Rosebank will do is line the pockets of the bosses.” 

Oil and gas giant Equinor, which is majority-owned by the Norwegian state, is set to develop Rosebank. Canadian oil company Suncor Energy has a 40 percent stake in the project, and Israeli firm Ithaca Energy has 20 percent. 

Outside the Department of Energy, Uplift climate charity director Tessa Khan told the crowd that activists must battle all those involved in Rosebank. “We have to fight this government both on the streets and in the courts,” she said. “We also need to take protests to Equinor and the Norwegian government. 

“The Scottish government has said that it will oppose Rosebank. But to that, I say we need more than words. First minister Hamza Yusuf needs to put his money where his mouth is.” 

Protesters marched to the Norwegian embassy chanting, “Stop Rosebank”. They carried placards that read, “No money on a dead planet,” and, “Grant Shapps—this is a sign to stop Rosebank.” 

Marchers were angry that Keir Starmer and the Labour have refused to revoke the drilling license for Rosebank. Alison from Extinction Rebellion Doctors told Socialist Worker, “Starmer hasn’t demonstrated that he cares about the environment at all. Labour needs to be more radical on climate policies, at Starmer doesn’t look much better than the Tories.” 

Protesters argued that Tory attacks on refugees and green policies are linked. Alison, who works with refugees in deportation centres, said, “The Tories also want to put the blame on someone, so they point the finger at refugees. But it’s their climate policies that mean more and more people are being forced to flee.” 

Robin from Fossil Free London told the crowd that the protest on Saturday “cannot be the end.”  “We stopped the Cambo field because of public pressure,” they said. “We need to see our action today as just the beginning. Today we got inspired and engaged, and now we get to work to stop Rosebank.”