Just Stop Oil funder warns of more disruptions in high-profile sporting events

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Dale Vince, the lead funder of Just Stop Oil, has issued a warning that more high-profile sports events will be targeted by the organisation as it seeks to shake people out of their complacency in the face of a worsening climate crisis. 

The recent disruption at Wimbledon, where activists ran onto Court 18 and delayed play by throwing confetti and jigsaw pieces, is just the latest incident. Similar protests have taken place at the World Snooker Championship, the rugby union Premiership final, and the Ashes Test at Lord’s.

Vince, who is also the chairman of Forest Green Rovers, emphasised that Just Stop Oil will continue its sporting protests regardless of the environmental efforts made by sports events like Wimbledon. He stated that their choice of protest locations is not based on criteria such as whether a sport is environmentally friendly or not. Instead, their focus is on causing disruption and capturing headlines through high-profile actions.

While Vince did not disclose Just Stop Oil’s specific future plans prior to the Wimbledon protests, he urged sports fans to recognise that a brief disruption during a game is insignificant compared to the devastating impact of climate change. He emphasised that millions of lives have already been lost, and millions more are displaced annually due to the climate crisis. In comparison, a few minutes delay at a sporting event pales in comparison.

Acknowledging that many people may agree with Just Stop Oil’s views but disagree with their disruptive methods, Vince firmly asserted that a disruptive protest is the most effective means of raising awareness. He argued that merely standing on the sidelines with placards is less impactful than actively disrupting everyday life and business as usual. The goal is to highlight the urgent need to address the global harm caused by the climate crisis.

Vince stressed that without significant global changes and a shift in the UK government’s approach, the climate crisis will continue to escalate. He drew a parallel between the disruptions caused by COVID-19 lockdowns and the potentially catastrophic consequences of a three-degree rise in global temperatures. He aims to wake people from their complacency and demand action.

While Vince acknowledges that the government is the primary target of their protests due to its support for fossil fuel drilling despite scientific evidence, politicians such as Rishi Sunak have criticised their methods. Sunak expressed that policy decisions should be made by elected representatives rather than disruptive activists. The policing minister, Chris Philp, also called for increased security measures at sporting events and the use of injunctions to prevent disruptive actions.

In a recent court case, an Animal Rising activist who ran onto the track at the Derby was spared jail but fined for causing a public nuisance. The judge noted the danger posed to the police and security staff during the incident.

Despite the criticisms and legal repercussions, Just Stop Oil remains steadfast in its mission to raise awareness and push for action to address the climate crisis. They will continue to target high-profile sports events to draw attention to the urgent need for change.

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