‘Alice in Schlumberland’ protest at key oil R&D centre in Cambridge
Extinction Rebellion activists deployed their ‘Alice in Wonderland’ giant teapot to blockade the Schlumberger Cambridge Research Centre this morning, in a bid “to highlight the absurdity” of researching for new ways to continue to heat up a planet already experiencing catastrophic damage from global warming.
Schlumberger is the world’s largest oilfield services company, and conducts research for the oil and gas industry at its large tent-shaped research centre hosted on the University of Cambridge’s West Cambridge site. Today’s blockade, the second at the site this year, is geared to stopping deliveries to the site. Extinction Rebellion (XR) Cambridge and XR Youth Cambridge activists used the giant teapot and a metal tripod to prevent vehicle access. They are demanding that the University of Cambridge stop supporting Schlumberger by ending their lease, and that Schlumberger make reparations for the harm they have caused.
Violet, a spokesperson for the group, said: “We have blocked the gate with a giant Alice in Wonderland teapot to highlight the absurdity of the situation. This building is specifically designed to research and develop new drilling techniques, yet the International Energy Agency says there can be no new oil and gas fields if we are to keep to 1.5˚C of warming, something the University of Cambridge has committed to. Schlumberger and the University are living in Wonderland if they think their commitment to net zero is compatible with drilling yet more oil wells and further developing fracking.”
Another protestor commented: “I am here to stop the University of Cambridge giving legitimacy to planet-killers like Schlumberger. Already, millions of people in the Global South are facing the worst effects of the climate catastrophe. This summer unprecedented climate-induced flooding in Pakistan killed thousands and damaged nearly a million homes.
“Companies like Schlumberger – which make money from the causes of climate breakdown – are responsible for this suffering. Schlumberger’s fossil fuel clients force communities from their homes to get at oil and gas reserves, committing horrendous human rights abuses along the way. Schlumberger has provided technology to companies working in the Niger Delta – one of the world’s most polluted regions, where the government has executed activists seeking to stop fossil fuel companies destroying their communities.
“I have to be here today because the University is enabling Schlumberger to collude in the destruction of our planet – and that has to stop.”
The direct action is a continuation of XR Cambridge’s ongoing ‘Schlumberger out!’ campaign, which makes three demands of the University of Cambridge and Schlumberger:
- Cut all ties: The University of Cambridge to stop collaborating with Schlumberger on research, professorships, and scholarships.
- Kick them out: end Schlumberger’s lease in Cambridge.
- Repair the harm: Schlumberger stop profiting off planetary destruction and commit to climate reparations.
The University of Cambridge was approached for comment.
A spokesperson for Schlumberger said: “Our transition technologies are deployed for customers to support their climate ambitions and we have made a public commitment to achieving Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
“In addition we created a New Energy business, developing solutions for the future that are carbon neutral which we intend to expand as part of our strategic ambitions addressing climate change.
“The Cambridge Research centre is heavily involved in supporting the company’s commitment to Net Zero emissions.”
A spokesperson for Camberidgeshire Police said: “We were called at 7.16am today (October 24) with reports of protesters blocking the entrance of a premises in Madingley Road, Cambridge.
“Officers have attended the scene to speak to the small group of protestors and representatives from the site.”
There were no arrests.