XR Oxford Newsletter – February 2024

If the insurance industry continues to underwrite fossil fuel expansion the world will be uninsurable and unrecognisable within 50 years.

Nora Scheel, Campaigns Manager for Campax

This month XR will be joining a coalition of groups worldwide to target insurers of fossil fuel projects, telling them that continuing to do so is incompatible with a liveable future. Join us in family-friendly actions in Oxford, London, and Chipping Norton – all the details are below.

Diary Dates

  • Wed 21 February, 12-1:30pm: Silent Sitting at Barclays Bank Cornmarket Oxford (Barclays Bank, Cornmarket)
  • Thu 22 February, 5-7pm: Oxford SU Climate Assembly. Non-students welcome (Oxford Town Hall)
  • Thu 22 February, 7-8:30pm: Biofuels talk and discussion. Non-students welcome (Oxford Student Union)
  • Sat 24 February, 12-2pm: Insure Our Future protest and outreach in Oxford (Cornmarket)
  • Tue 27 February, 7-9pm: Empowering community energy – Parliamentary reception to promote community energy (Portcullis House, 1 Victoria Embankment, London SW1A 2JR) Email steve.shaw@powerforpeople.org.uk for details
  • Mon 26 – Thu 29 February: Insure Our Future week of action (London)
  • Fri 01 March, 12:30-1:30pm: Insure Our Future – Chipping Norton (Cromwell Park, Banbury Road, Chipping Norton OX7 5DF)
  • Wed 06 March, 12-1:30pm: Silent Sitting at Barclays Bank Cornmarket Oxford (Barclays Bank, Cornmarket)
  • Thu 07 March, 7:30-9pm: XR Oxford Action Circle Meeting (Online, contact xroxfordactions@gmail.com)
  • Sat 09 March, 2:30-4:30pm: Oxford Climate Choir monthly rehearsal (South Oxford Community Centre)
  • Wed 20 March, 12-1:30pm: Silent Sitting at Barclays Bank Cornmarket Oxford (Barclays Bank, Cornmarket)
  • Sat 23 March, 12-2pm: Stop Rosebank protest and outreach in Oxford (Cornmarket)

Get Active

Help needed in Media & Messaging

The media & messaging working group is responsible for communication with the press, internal communications, social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Mastodon), our website, and this newsletter. We are currently very depleted for health reasons and are keen to recruit. If you can help, please email xroxfordcomms@gmail.com – experience is useful but not required.

Insure our Future – Global Week of Action, 24th February-1st March

Why insurance?

What does the global insurance industry have to do with the Climate Crisis? Well, fossil fuel projects need three things to operate: permits, money and insurance.  No insurance, no fossil fuels. It’s that simple.  Insurance companies enable fossil fuel exploitation, which means they also have the power to stop it. And the good news is some of them are already using that power. For example:

  • In January, after months of campaigning, leading global insurers at Lloyds of London announced they would NOT insure the controversial EACOP pipeline, citing environmental and human rights concerns.
  • Rising insurance costs have been one of the main blockers for new oil fields in the UK (Cambo) and Canada (Bay du Nord).

What is the Global Week of Action

From 24th February-3rd March, XR will join a coalition of other groups for a week of action calling on the insurance industry to immediately stop insuring new fossil fuel projects, respect human rights and support a just transition. Details will follow but the basics are:

  • Saturday 24th February –family friendly outreach and action in Oxford city centre.
  • Monday 26th (pm)-Thursday 29th – large scale action in the City of London, focused on the global insurance companies with the worst records. This will include targeted NVDA and more inclusive, large scale marches / rallies, so there will be something for everyone.
  • Friday 1st March – regional / local actions across the UK, including a family-friendly picket of the Zurich office in Chipping Norton.

How can I get involved?

  • Join the big actions in London if you can. If you can only spare one or two days, Tuesday 27th and Wednesday 28th February are the most important.
  • Join these Telegram chats: Insurance Week of Action for more information about the London Actions and Oxfordshire Rebels During Rebellions for coordination with local rebels.
  • If you prefer local action (or can do both!) please support our outreach action in Cornmarket on Saturday 24th February and come to Chipping Norton on Friday 1st March.
  • If you’d like to get involved in planning and organising the local actions, please email xroxfordactions@gmail.com.
  • There will also be Digital Rebellion actions to join from home. Sign up for updates here.

More information about Insure our Future coalition and campaign here.
Information about the XR London actions here.

Campaigning for complete divestment at the Oxfordshire Pension Fund

Fossil Free Oxfordshire has been campaigning for the past 10 years for the complete divestment of the Oxfordshire local government pension fund from fossil fuels. The Oxfordshire County Council Pension Fund Committee, which acts as trustees of the fund, is composed of county councillors. The committee has recently changed to include new Green and Labour councillors from Oxford. This is a good time to lobby the pension fund committee to reach our divestment goal. Can you help us by lobbying the committee members?
Read about Fossil Free Oxfordshire’s campaign here.

News

Stop Rosebank meeting with Anneliese Dodds

Since the decision in September last year to greenlight the Rosebank oilfield, XR Oxford has been on the streets regularly to protest against it. The protests have included a letter to local MPs, which members of the public have been eager to sign.

Having collected around 200 signatures, three of us met with Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East, on 26 January to present her with the letter and signatures, and to discuss Labour’s position on Rosebank.

The meeting was friendly and constructive. Anneliese confirmed that a Labour government would be committed to £28 billion annual investment in green jobs by the second half of the Parliament (subject to fiscal rules), though six days later this commitment was, infuriatingly,  withdrawn by the party. She also confirmed Labour would not grant any new North Sea fossil fuel licences. However, she was very clear that Labour saw cancelling already-awarded licences as too harmful: legally, financially, and reputationally, and would seek to recoup the damage wreaked on our carbon budgets through action in other areas (no mention of how!)

We asked the following questions:

Has Labour taken legal advice on any decision to announce now that they will cancel Rosebank if elected?
She did not answer this directly but said that contracts must be respected, so that it is clear that Labour would be a responsible government, unlike the present government which has played fast and loose with the law.

We pointed out that Piers Forster, the interim head of the Climate Change Committee, has advised that further licensing is incompatible with climate goals because oil and gas production would exceed its theoretical share of the UK’s 5th and 6th carbon budgets.  If Labour does not cancel the Rosebank licence, how would it get back on track to fulfil its legal duties under the Climate Change Act and the Paris Agreement?
Anneliese said that other policies would have to make up for this. She also said that it was quite possible that less oil would actually be extracted than was projected, and that this had happened with other North Sea oilfields. She was quite clear that there would be no cancelling of existing contracts, even though Labour opposes them and would not have agreed them if they were in power.

Will Labour commit to abolishing subsidies for all fossil fuels?
Anneliese was non-committal, saying that was a decision for the Shadow Chancellor, but said it was an interesting question.

Overall, it was, of course, frustrating to hear that Labour, who are currently in such a strong position, is not prepared to take the kind of stand against climate vandalism that so many of us want to see. But the meeting felt useful nonetheless: it is really important that the government-in-waiting hears regularly from those who support strong climate action.

We mentioned recent polling which suggests that Labour has nothing to lose and more to gain by being bolder on climate policies. We asked for braver political leadership, a willingness to explain and educate the public, and more boldness on the green agenda. Anneliese assured us that we will hear a strong message from Labour. Again, this assurance appears to have been contradicted by the events of subsequent days. We will keep pushing for even stronger action.

If you are a constituent of Oxford East, you can write to Anneliese to express your dismay at Labour’s position at writetothem.com. Protests against Rosebank are ongoing in Oxford and around the country. The next will be on 23rd March from 12-2pm on Cornmarket.