If the public had any sympathy left for radical environmental activists who use disruptive tactics in the ludicrous belief that they will somehow save the planet, it surely evaporated this week. On the same day that energy bills soared due to supply pressures, two groups, Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion, blockaded oil terminals at critical sites in the UK. The irony seems to have been lost on the activists, who claimed that they were protesting in the name of the cost-of-living crisis. They also argued, hysterically, that it was “genocidal” for the Government to be contemplating the expansion of oil and gas extraction in the UK as a response to high prices.
Attempting to appease a clique of extreme eco-campaigners would never be a wise move, but it would be particularly foolish now. Politicians have neglected energy security in their single-minded pursuit of net zero, and households are paying a terrible price. The simple truth that the green extremists appear blind to is that it would be impossible to switch overnight to relying fully on renewable energy without shutting half the economy down. Indeed, the practical result of acceding to the demand to end oil and gas extraction in the UK would be to increase our reliance on supplies from hostile states, including Russia.
The US, partially shielded from the energy crisis by its large domestic shale industry, shows a better way forward. Moreover, refocusing the country’s energy strategy on security of supply and lower prices does not mean that, in the longer term, the UK’s green ambitions need to be abandoned. But don’t expect the anti-capitalist activists who populate Extinction Rebellion and its ilk to understand that.