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Extinction Rebellion Cambridge blocks Schlumberger site with pink boat

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Extinction Rebellion (XR) shut down access to the Schlumberger Gould Research Centre off Madingley Road this morning in an action that coincides with the COP26 global climate conference in Glasgow discussing energy.

Extinction Rebellion Cambridge outside the Schlumberger building in West Cambridge. Picture: Derek Langley
Extinction Rebellion Cambridge outside the Schlumberger building in West Cambridge. Picture: Derek Langley

Climate activists moved their iconic pink boat into the main access road to the Schlumberger building at 8am. Tripod structures were put in position to block the service entrance.

Schlumberger operates in 85 countries and, at its Cambridge centre, the focus is on drilling, chemistry, fluid mechanics and seismics. It maintains ongoing connections to the University of Cambridge: as well as hosting Schlumberger on its West Cambridge Site, the university provides training and resources through the Schlumberger Cambridge International Scholarship, and maintains a Schlumberger Professorship of Complex Physical Systems.

XR points out that in 2020 the UK government provided, with no environmental conditions, a £415m Covid-19 bailout loan to Schlumberger, as the company laid off 21,000 people globally, reducing its headcount from 103,000 in April to 82,000 at the end of the third quarter.

An XR Cambridge spokesperson said: “We are here today because the government, the law, the banks, the university – all of our institutions – are betraying us. How can we expect COP26 to create positive change when the host country is on the one hand urging other countries to reduce their emissions, and on the other giving millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to Schlumberger? And let’s not let the university off the hook – instead of cosying up to companies like Schlumberger, it should be following the science produced by its own academics, and condemning the fossil fuel industry at every opportunity. COP26 is a betrayal – and the actions of the UK government and powerful institutions like the University of Cambridge show this.

XR Exinction Rebellion Schlumberger. Picture: Derek Langley (52873214)
XR Exinction Rebellion Schlumberger. Picture: Derek Langley (52873214)

“What do we want? We want the University of Cambridge to sever ties with the fossil fuel industry and instead use its influence to help create a sustainable and socially just future. It must condemn the destruction of ecosystems and communities carried out by the fossil fuel industry, and take action by removing Schlumberger from the West Cambridge Site.

“The public wants action. In an opinion poll last month, up to 94 per cent of respondents backed a carbon tax on polluting industries. In another, 65 per cent said they wanted to stop subsiding oil and gas and support renewables and home insulation instead. Climate breakdown is not about photo ops, it’s about real action. Boris Johnson, put your money where your mouth is.”

Schlumberger claims that it has a ”long-standing culture of global social and environmental stewardship”.

COP26 includes 35 events organised by, or feature, big polluting companies or the lobby groups that represent them. A spokesperson for the global oil and gas industry said the sector was “transitioning to meet the global challenge that is climate change”.

The pink Extinction Rebellion Cambridge boat in action. Picture: Mike Scialom
The pink Extinction Rebellion Cambridge boat in action. Picture: Mike Scialom

An XR Cambridge protester added: “It’s terrible the UK government says big oil is not welcome at COP26 but they’re still there and it’s not OK – these companies started the climate crisis. Their key messages will no doubt keep echoing around the Glasgow event, distracting from the task at hand, which is leaving fossil fuels in the ground.

“COP26 is another betrayal and fossil fuel companies are trying to greenwash us – indeed the UK government is just another greenwasher at COP26. They are perhaps one of the worst – they had 600 meetings with big oil in the last year, and just 30 with renewable energy companies. The recent budget actually reduced taxes on internal flights and failed to mention the climate crisis at all.

“It’s ridiculous that Cambridge University is attending COP26 to talk about green initiatives while still hosting fossil fuel companies on its the campus, including world’s biggest oil services company – Schlumberger facilitates every single oil and gas extraction in the world. They even have a mock oil drill at its West Cambridge site!”

On the same morning, the University of Cambridge held a panel talk on the climate crisis at Pembroke College with UN security-general Antonio Guterres.

The University of Cambridge was invited to comment.

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