More than 30 climate activists were behind bars in UK prisons while diplomats from around the world negotiated at the Cop27 UN climate talks in Egypt.
Most of the activists, all supporters of the Just Stop Oil campaign, were held on remand after being charged with causing a public nuisance, or conspiracy to cause a public nuisance, in relation to disruptive protests on the M25 motorway.
Just Stop Oil said its supporters had been arrested about 700 times since the start of October, on top of about 2,000 arrests since the start of the campaign in April. On Friday, several activists were released from jail, leaving 30 behind bars.
The campaign group has vowed to continue its disruptive protests until the government agrees to halt all new oil and gas projects, but announced a pause to its actions a week ago. In a statement, Just Stop Oil said it was giving time to those in government” who were “in touch with reality to consider their responsibilities”.
Just Stop Oil activists caused chaos earlier in November by climbing on to gantries at various locations over London’s orbital motorway, stopping traffic in both directions. According to the campaign, 65 of its supporters were arrested over four days of highly disruptive actions on the M25.
Of those, about 25 were remanded in custody. Eight who were arrested before the motorway actions began and charged with conspiracy to cause a public nuisance were also held on remand. Three were already behind bars when the most recent phase of the campaign began.
Those released after being charged are facing onerous conditions, said Nick Cooper, of Rebels in Prison, which coordinates support for jailed climate protesters. “The people that are getting bailed are getting GPS tags with quite a small [area in which they can move],” they got.
A spokesperson for Just Stop Oil said the state was targeting the wrong people.
“As Cop27 is unfolding and the [UN] the secretary general is saying there is no credible plan to stay below 1.5C [of global heating]our government is holding people in prison who are demanding we act to protect humanity,” she said.
Just Stop Oil’s campaign remains on hold, but on Monday morning climate activist protests continued, with supporters of Extinction Rebellion and other aligned groups targeting companies and organizations with links to fossil fuels at 13 locations in London.
“The addiction to fossil fuels must end,” said a spokesperson for XR South East.