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Just Stop Oil is an Annoyance First, and then maybe a Climate Action Group


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Just Stop Oil is an Annoyance First, and then maybe a Climate Action Group

In recent years, splashing historic artwork — with soup – and other forms of vandalism have become very common. An activist group particularly notorious for such acts, is ‘Just Stop Oil’. Easily identifiable with their orange-colored substance of damage, the group demands prompt climate action, especially controlling fossil fuel usage. In better words, Just Stop Oil wants climate action now.

So what do they do? They deface Van Gogh’s Sunflowers with tomato soup, with the two protesters gluing their hands to the wall. Another group attacks the iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring painting. One member attempts to glue his head to the wall, the other splashes – you guessed it, it’s tomato soup – on the former and glues his hand to the wall as well. Just Stop Oil’s latest protest was conducted at the Duke of Westminster’s wedding; two protestors released orange smoke in the air, only to be whisked away by the police.

Protests? More like Unnecessary Drama

These instances are having most people face-palming themselves. Not because of the failure of the cause, but because of how dramatic and unnecessary they are. Just Stop protestors yell about the futility of art and the need to secure “justice” for damage caused by climate change inaction. The group believes in putting “nonviolent pressure” until they can “force change to happen.” The world is yet to see the change, which the group expects will be brought by vandalizing artworks and buildings. The group has sprayed orange paint onto multiple British Universities as a form of protest. The only time this spray-painting crusade has made sense was when they attacked the building of TotalEnergies in London. It made sense only because the recipient was still connected to the cause Just Stop Oil is fighting.

Just Stop Oil aims to draw attention with these acts of protest. They are, but for entirely wrong purposes. In no way do these instances speak of the group’s bravery in standing up against energy moguls. Their protests do not draw supporters, and are being seen as nuisances. What good is such a form of protest if it undermines an important cause like climate action? The Duke of Westminster is surely more perturbed at the interruption of such an important day of his life, than being drawn towards the idea of taking action against climate change. These protests are taking attention away from climate change and reducing its concern among the masses.

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Rather than being a public bother, confront those directly responsible for climate action

Calling for action via radical means is one thing. Causing public suffering and frustration is another. The two shouldn’t be confused with each other. The group had earlier planned to protest at European airports this summer, disrupting thousands of holiday plans. The plans were made at a meeting attended by an undercover journalist. Member Phoebe Plummer said in it that this time, the group meant “radical, unignorable disruption.” She also adds, “no summer holiday is more important than food security, housing, and the lives of your loved ones.” With agendas like these in mind, who would regard Just Stop Oil as the champion that brought about climate change?

The group might think of itself as a dedicated fighter against government inaction towards climate change. The world, however, sees the group as an annoyance. Who wouldn’t after all, if hard-earned money paid to look at artwork is wasted when the experience is soured by commotions like these. Just Stop Oil seems to be all talk and no action, given the stageworthy nature of their protests. This image will remain with the group unless it directs its protests to those actually complicit in this global phenomenon. Until then, Just Stop Oil will continue being regarded as a nuisance instead of a trooper.

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