Police arrested 62 climate activists in London Monday after they disrupted traffic with a “slow march”, at the start of a new wave of promised action over Britain’s oil and gas policies.
The protesters, from the Just Stop Oil group, walked slowly in the road around Parliament Square for around 10 minutes before they were arrested by London’s Metropolitan Police.
“Officers have arrested 62 Just Stop Oil activists who were in the road in Parliament Square, #Westminster,” the force said in a statement on X (formerly Twitter).
Just Stop Oil, formed in early 2022, wants an end to new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.
It has staged numerous protests aimed at disrupting events, institutions or aspects of daily life, leading to thousands of its activists being arrested and more than 100 jailed.
In its latest phase of demonstrations, the group has promised to slow march in London “on an unprecedented scale” for the next three weeks.
“Just Stop Oil supporters are willing to slow march to the point of arrest today, and every day until the police take action to prosecute the real criminals — the people who are facilitating new oil and gas,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
Separately, Just Stop Oil activists who protested on the M25 London orbital road in breach of an injunction were on Monday spared jail.
A High Court judge in London handed Theresa Norton, 65, and Mair Bain, 36, 80 and 40-day sentences respectively which will be suspended for two years, meaning they will not serve jail time unless they reoffend.
The pair — along with 10 others who escaped any penalty because another activist failed to inform them of the injunction — caused “massive disruption” as a result of the protest in November 2022, the judge said in a ruling.
The government meanwhile announced it was issuing 27 new oil and gas licences in the North Sea in areas that have been prioritised to boost energy security.
Climate campaigners say the move will make no difference to high energy bills but will produce yet more profits for “dizzyingly wealthy companies”.
“UK voters want warmer homes, cheaper energy bills and a government that’s not afraid to take on the climate crisis,” Philip Evans, a climate campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said.
He accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of ignoring that reality and instead choosing to “pander to corporate interests, with licences for fossil fuels”.
Earlier in October a UK judge ordered three activists from Just Stop Oil to do dozens of hours of unpaid work after they trespassed on the pitch during an Ashes Test at Lord’s cricket ground in June.
It was the latest in a series of high-profile sporting events, including the British Formula One Grand Prix and the Wimbledon tennis championship, targeted by the group.
UK police forces were controversially granted new anti-protest powers by the government earlier this year following several years of disruptive demonstrations by environmental activists.