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XR’s bath protesters want BP to clean up its act

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Extinction Rebellion staged a ‘greenwashing’ protest at the weekend in a bid to expose BP’s eco-policies as publicity stunts.

The climate change action group blockaded the BP garage on Elizabeth Way on Saturday (January 18) and used music and art to draw attention to the worsening effects of climate change and the perceived inaction by national and local governments.

One of the activities saw protester Donald Bell being doused in green liquid to symbolise the efforts by fossil fuel companies to legitimise their activities. The group claims the fossil fuel behemoth is attempting to rebrand itself as purveyors of eco-friendly, sustainable activities while continuing with fossil fuel activities because, as BP’s chief executive Bob Dudley rationalised: “It’s not a race to renewables, it’s a race to lower greenhouse gas emissions... the world is going to need oil and gas for decades.”

“We’re currently facing the strange spectacle of life continuing as usual while ecosystems collapse and the planet burns,” said XR protester Jason Scott-Warren. “Extinction Rebellion is escalating actions to make the point that things cannot go on this way – either society changes, fast, or everything is lost.”

Art in action at the pumps. Picture: Keith Heppell
Art in action at the pumps. Picture: Keith Heppell

There were two alleged incidents on the forecourt during the Saturday protest.

The first involved XR’s Robert Possnett who said a motorcycle tried to get through one of the blockades.

“The incident was reported to the police and the police gave me an incident number but when I phoned them they said that the incident number didn’t exist. They said they couldn’t resolve it on the phone, but to go online [to make a request].”

Mr Possnett was later philosophical about the counter-protest.

“I’ve decided not to press charges,” he said. “The guy was angry but he’s part of the system too, and I completely understand his frustration. My fight is not against him, it’s against the system that’s killing this planet. I hope he’ll think about what he’s done and not do it again in future. But we caused him inconvenience and people are being put under a lot of stress. We’ve got to get these people on board, we can’t fight our way out of this.”

Extinction Rebellion activist Robert Possnett
Extinction Rebellion activist Robert Possnett

Mr Possnett says he also witnessed a second incident involving a 4x4 type vehicle – possibly a Mercedes – that also tried to get past the protesters.

Mr Possnett added. “A lot of us went over and got round the vehicle and just stood until the five minutes was up.”

The five minutes strategy is part of XR’s training programme.

“It’s swarming,” said Mr Possnett. “We put a temporary road block in, block the road for five minutes and then allow the traffic to continue, then we might do the same thing again there later. The idea is to create a temporary disturbance.

“Overall, the protest has highlighted the issue of climate breakdown, got some press and helped us to develop movement building, which includes training and communication.”

Cambridgeshire Police told the Cambridge Independent: “Officers attended a protest at the petrol station on Elizabeth Way, Cambridge, shortly after 11am on Saturday. There were reports that a moped and a Mercedes had been driven towards protesters who had blocked the petrol station forecourt. However, both of these incidents allegedly took place before officers arrived on scene and there were not believed to be any injuries.

“People are urged to report non-injury collisions online using our road traffic collision form. Any collisions where injuries have been sustained must be reported in person at a police station.”

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