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Five arrests as Extinction Rebellion revisits Schlumberger centre

Extinction Rebellion at the Schlumberger Research Centre. Picture: Tom Dorrington
Extinction Rebellion at the Schlumberger Research Centre. Picture: Tom Dorrington

Extinction Rebellion’s action at the Schlumberger Cambridge Research Centre yesterday resulted in five arrests - on charges including criminal damage, trepass and breaking bail conditions following previous arrests - as the climate change activist group protested the oilfield services giant’s government bail-out and “role in environmental destruction”.

The latest action in what is now a long-running campaign appears to have been triggered by ire that polluting industries have received a total of £16.25bn offered in government relief to 53 UK companies so far. These include airlines Ryanair and easyJet, which received £600m each, with WizzAir and British Airways awarded £300m each. That total of £1.8bn is similar to the amount awarded to five carmakers were on the Bank of England’s emergency loan list, which saw Nissan receive £600m, Toyota and Rolls Royce £300m and Honda £75m. The total emergency funding for the motor industry is £1.6bn.

The oil and gas services sector saw beneficiaries Baker Hughes - £600m - alongside Schlumberger’s £150m. Chemicals company BASF received £1bn: Bayer, which owns Monsanto, was handed £600m.

The choices led to Simon Rawson, director of corporate engagement at charity ShareAction, saying: “Companies need to recognise the interests of all of their stakeholders, not just shareholders. This includes their responsibilities to their workforce, their communities and the environment.

“Where they are in receipt of taxpayer bailouts, society’s expectations are rightly even higher. It is hard to comprehend how companies can justify paying huge dividends in the current situation.

“Economic stimulus packages need to support a green recovery, with strict environmental conditions for these chemical and pesticide companies, to ensure our planet is not overheated, polluted, and devoid of biodiversity.”

Schlumberger’s website says it “provides technology for reservoir characterization, drilling, production and processing to the oil and gas industry” in 120 countries. The Schlumberger Cambridge Research Centre houses multidisciplinary research teams of more than 100 scientists and technicians.

XR Cambridge says the government “has to shut down companies like Schlumberger now if we are to have any chance of averting climate catastrophe”.

The group adds: “Schlumberger is one of many fossil fuel companies with deep connections to Cambridge University – which maintains these ties despite claiming to be following science-based targets to limit global heating to 1.5°C. As well as hosting Schlumberger on its West Cambridge Site, the University maintains the Schlumberger Cambridge International Scholarship to train another generation of professionals to work in the fossil fuel industry. The University also also hosts the BP Institute and associated professorships.”

The campaigners’ No Going Back protests describe “the historic opportunity presented by Covid-19 to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies the world faces”.

XR activist Jamie said at the protest: “We are here today because neither the government nor the University will stand up to the fossil fuel industry. With every new report and research paper we see that the biggest emergency in human history is worse than we previously thought. Yet those in positions of responsibility refuse to act. As we come out of this global pandemic, none of us want to be out here protesting. But the government and the University are up to their eyeballs in oil and happy to stay that way – so it is left up to us to sound the alarm and shut down the planet-destroyers.”

The university and Cambridgeshire Police have been contacted.

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