Protesters block M25 and warn that climate change ‘will cause society to collapse’

20 July 2022, 08:45 | Updated: 20 July 2022, 11:45

Protesters scaled a gantry over the M25 and blocked traffic
Protesters scaled a gantry over the M25 and blocked traffic. Picture: Just Stop Oil

By Megan Hinton

Climate activist group Just Stop Oil have blocked two lanes on the M25 causing miles of queues and delays for rush hour commuters.

National Highways South East have announced nine miles of congestion built up after protesters blocked off two of four lanes on the M25 anti-clockwise in Surrey from Junction 10.

The climate campaigners declared the M25 "a site of civil resistance against our criminal government".

Two protesters on a gantry above the M25 said the government must “stop all all new gas an oil licences in the North Sea.”

The protesters stopped traffic on the M25
The protesters stopped traffic on the M25. Picture: Just Stop Oil

“We are currently on a gantry above the M25. It is very loud up here and very windy. We have dropped a banner over the edge, securely tied, that says Just Stop Oil because that is what our government must do. 

“It must stop new oil and gas licences in the North Sea. We are risking our civil liberty being up here, we do not want to be up here, but we feel it is what we must do.”

Just Stop Oil stage demonstration on the M25

A spokesperson for Just Stop Oil said: "We ask that no one travels on this motorway from Wednesday to Friday this week as we will be blocking the highway.

"We fully acknowledge the cost and disruption this will cause to the public and ask that they take their demands for compensation to the government which has caused this unprecedented threat to our lives and liberties."

The protests have been sparked by an "extreme heatwave" which swept across the UK this week bringing with it record breaking temperatures of 40C.

Read more: Tears and devastation as scores of homes destroyed in heatwave as UK braces for storms

Protesters said: "It is clear that our society will collapse within the next two decades. Allowing this to happen is a crime without parallel in our history. It is the ultimate betrayal of the next generation.

"It is an act of mass genocide against billions of the poorest people in the poorest countries on earth. It is treason – plain and simple.

"As citizens, as humans, as sons and daughters and mothers and fathers we have every right under British law to protect ourselves and those we love. We will not stand by, we will do what is necessary. We will resist."

The group have demanded that the UK government make a statement that confirming they will "immediately halt all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK".

Surrey Police said officers were dealing with the protest.

A statement said: "We're dealing with a protest on the M25 just past junction 10 of the anti-clockwise carriageway this morning. Three lanes are currently closed.

"We will keep you informed of further updates. In the meantime please avoid the area."

Temperatures hit 40C on Tuesday, the hottest on record in the UK.

Cressida Gethin, 20, a student from Herefordshire who joined the protest said: "I am terrified by the extreme heat in the UK this week, knowing that this will only get worse as we continue to extract and burn more and more fossil fuels.

"This country has the technology and money to begin a just and rapid transition immediately using renewable energy, insulation and cheap public transport, but our government refuses to do so.

"I feel it is my duty as a human being to demand change in a way that cannot be ignored."

Protester Emma Mani, 45, an Environmental Consultant and mother of two from Berkhamsted added: "I've lived much of my life in India. My children grew up there. Now I can’t live in the country I call home as I fear for my children’s future there.

"Temperatures are hitting 50 degrees in the global south. I can’t live a life here in the UK with integrity, knowing I am doing nothing to save the billion people I have left behind. 

"We, the people, the public, ordinary people like me, now have the privilege to stand up for our survival. You’ve experienced 40. Are you ready for 50? The UK is on fire. Our house is on fire, but you didn’t listen then. Listen now. Take action. Your government doesn’t give a f***.

"I Don’t want to do this. I have no choice. But our children have the right to survive beyond 2050."

Sixteen firefighters were injured fighting fires in the capital on the hottest day of the year, with two admitted to hospital, according to London Fire Brigade.

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