XR Oxford Newsletter – May 2022

Shell’s disregard for climate change risks means they are completely failing on their Goal Zero safety ambition to “do no harm”. Shell is fully aware that their continued oil & gas extraction and expansion projects are causing extreme harms, to our climate, environment, nature and to people. I can no longer work for a company that ignores all the alarms and dismisses the risks of climate change and ecological collapse.

Caroline Dennett

We’re keeping up the pressure on some of the worst polluters in the country – appallingly wasteful private jets, and climate criminals, Shell. Meanwhile, we’ve been trying to stop the destruction of our precious river ecosystem, and Project 3.5 is ramping up to grow the movement.

Dates for your diary

  • Saturday, 4th June, 12pmOxford Pride (Radcliffe Square)
  • Saturday, 4th June: Oxford Project 3.5 door-knocking begins (Florence Park area)
  • Tuesday, 14th June, 7–9pm: Change is Now. For all new rebels: We know the gravity of the climate and ecological emergency, and we all want to do something about it. Come and talk to other local people who feel the same, and want to act in 2022 to turn things around. (Florence Park Community Centre)
  • Thursday, 16th JuneClean Air Day. Contact your local affinity group to find out their plans. If you don’t know your local AG, the welcome group will connect you.
  • Saturday, 18th June, 2pm: End of term protest. Tell the colleges to sever their links with fossil fuels! (Radcliffe Camera)
  • Monday, 18th July: Summer uprising begins. Be prepared for local actions!

Volunteers needed

Knock, knock, knock!

This summer Extinction Rebellion Oxford will be getting out on to the streets to talk to people about the climate and environmental crisis. They will be taking part in Project 3.5, reaching out reaching out beyond committed environmentalists to members of the public who are anxious about the crisis we face (as the vast majority are) but feel impotent to do anything about it.

In a nutshell, Project 3.5 involves intense outreach, talking to local people across Oxford and inviting them to a local talk that will bring new rebels into the movement. This will be quickly followed by integration activities to help them to find their place and feel empowered to take action for our planet.

If you would like to take part in this vital outreach, you can join the Oxford Project 3.5 WhatsApp group by following this link. The next training for Project 3.5 volunteers will be on Wednesday, 1st June, 6.30-8.30pm

On 4th June, we will be knocking on the doors in the Florence Park area, with a talk taking place on Tuesday 14th June at Florence Park Community Centre.

Our outreach work will engage new people in climate action, often for the first time. Everyone is called upon to help in this outreach and we need to act now. Please take that first step and join Project 3.5 now!

Gardener project

“Gardeners” enable local groups (LGs) to grow and flourish, which is absolutely essential to XR’s success!

  • Connecting Local Groups to information and resources. There’s a lot of information and good stuff out there, but it’s not always easy to find it! Gardeners can help you find your way.
  • Organising training and help LGs to set up projects or campaigns
  • Providing advice and expertise on local plans
  • Sharing feedback from LGs with regional/national and UK-wide working groups. There are often as many opinions as there are rebels in our movement, but when there is some recurring feedback coming from lots of LGs, Gardeners will help to make sure that it’s heard by the relevant UK-wide teams.

You can read more about what the gardeners have been up to here.

Unfortunately, the South East of England has been gardener-less for half a year now. We’re looking for someone who is a relatively seasoned rebel and would consider being trained up to support other LGs within the South East. You could apply for Volunteer Living Expenses of up to £800pm here. And you wouldn’t have to cover all LGs on your own – we aim to find a fellow gardener. You can read more about the role here.


Flying to Extinction

On 21st May, Extinction Rebellion South East blocked entrances to Europe’s largest private jet facility protesting against the shockingly high levels of CO2 emitted by private flights. Just 1% of the world’s population causes half of all aviation emissions and at Farnborough Airport, the convenience of a few wealthy people is prioritised over the lives of future generations. Protesters locked themselves together and used a tripod to block the entrances. At another entrance a table with the banner “Flying to Extinction” was set up, with protesters dressed up as the super-rich elite who use private flights.

One of the protesters, Teresa Garlake from Oxford, explained her motives:

I cannot stand by and watch the ongoing destruction of the one home that we all share, Planet Earth. If our home is being destroyed, how can we not step up to save it? Highly polluting aviation fuel is exempt from any taxes – it costs about 94p per litre at this airport – and flights that use this airport carry, on average, just 2.3 passengers. I can’t accept this when so many millions of people around the world are suffering the devastating effects of the climate crisis right now.

Shell AGM disrupted

On the morning of 24th May, five Oxford rebels, as shareholders or proxy shareholders of Shell PLC, joined an action to disrupt the oil giant’s annual general meeting. More Oxford rebels took part in protests outside the AGM venue.

The 70+ disruptors, from various groups including XR, Christian Climate Action, Stop Ecocide and Fossil Free London, having been assigned action roles in advance, met around 7.30 at a location half an hour’s walk away, to run through our action plan. We arrived at the venue, the Methodist Central Hall, around 9am, unsure how many of us would make it into the meeting, or how long we’d be allowed to remain once in.

It went better than many of us dared to hope. No one was denied entry. When Shell’s chairman, Sir Andrew Mackenzie, attempted to start the meeting, he was drowned out after a couple of sentences by the amazing choir singing (to the tune of the Queen hit) ‘We will, we will STOP YOU’. Once this was over, Mackenzie tried again, only to find activist after activist standing and adding to a litany of Shell’s environmental and human rights crimes, each one ending sternly ‘Shell must fall’.

As all the pre-prepared statements finished, and still security made no move, we continued, with ad-libbed songs, speeches and chants. Some ordinary shareholders were angered by the disruption, heckling and trying to shout us down, but our numbers meant that that had little effect. After an hour and a half, Mackenzie told us he was having to clear the room: first the ordinary shareholders left, then the nine members of the board, and then, as the police started to close in, the protestors, singing all the way down the sweeping staircase, through the foyer, and into the fresh air. A few brave rebels had glued on, and were removed by the police. Three, who glued on or tried to glue on to the steps outside the venue, were arrested.

It was an incredibly uplifting action. All I can assume is that Shell had decided, for PR reasons, against ejecting protestors, but had not anticipated them arriving in such powerful and passionate numbers. It was amazing to face, across the room, these people who are bent on profiting from ecocide, and have the chance to speak truth about their actions.

We got excellent media coverage. Caroline Dennett’s brilliant resignation statement the day before anticipated our message beautifully: ‘They know that continued oil and gas extraction causes extreme harms, to our climate, to our environment and to people. And whatever they say, Shell is simply not winding down on fossil fuels.’ Shell must fall.


The Red Rebels brought attention to the shocking pollution blighting our rivers on Saturday, 21st May. According to a report by the Oxford River Improvement Campaign, almost every Thames Water sewage station has dumped untreated sewage, half of them for over ten hours per week, with a combined 68,000 hours of discharge into the river.

Starting at the Natural History Museum, the Red Rebels mourned before extinct and endangered species, before processing along the centre of St. Giles and Walton Street, drawing admiration and concern from passers-by. We handed out leaflets to explain the meaning of the action.

When the rebels reached Port Meadow, they parted into two groups to flank either side of the river and head upstream. On the West bank, one group solemnly entered the water to float downstream. They were led by Angela Jones dragging a coffin labelled “Death of the Wye”, and joined by a group of wild swimmers. Chants started up – “Stop polluting our rivers!”, “Shame on the water companies!”, and “Species, not faeces!”

We heard from a cross-party group of speakers:

  • James Fry, Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor for Walton Manor (Labour)
  • ​Anneliese Dodds, MP Oxford East (Labour)
  • Ashley Smith, Windrush Against Sewage Pollution
  • ​Angela Jones, Adventure & Wild Swim Specialist and the Wye Mermaid
  • ​Rosie Pearson, Councillor for Brize Norton and Shilton (Green)
  • ​Louise Upton, City Councillor (Labour)
  • ​Nick Field-Johnson, Councillor for Burford and North Carterton (Conservative)
  • ​Paul Healy (River Wye group).
  • Cathryn Ross (Thames water strategy and regulatory affairs director)
  • Calum Miller, Councillor for Otmoor/Upper Ray (Lib Dem)
  • Sally Povolotsky, Councillor for Harwell and Hendreds (Lib Dem)

The protest got a long writeup in the Oxford Mail and the Oxford Blue.

This event was beautiful but important in bringing The Oxfordshire Red Rebels and Extinction Rebellion together with local people, councillors, MPs and activists from the Windrush, Thames and Wye valleys. We united and strengthened our fight to stop a Government who allow water companies to profit from the destruction of ecosystems by using our rivers for farming waste and as open sewers.

Amanda Button, Red Rebel

Levellers Day

Our third event on the packed May 21st! Members of Swallows and Charbury XR joined a diverse group of activists remembering the three Levellers shot outside Burford Church in 1649. We joined a short service, supported by the Sea Green Singers, then marched down the High Street led by the singing of Attila the Stockbroker. There was a positive response from passersby and those visiting the XR stall, and the talks and then Attila’s gig rounded off a really interesting day, shaking up the usual Cotswold village vibe! Levellers Day is an annual event, and would be well worth joining again.

In love and rage,

The XR Oxford Crew