Just Stop Oil students paint Exeter and Oxford University in resistance to new oil and gas

Three student Just Stop Oil supporters have painted buildings at Oxford University and the University of Exeter, in resistance against the UK Government’s plans to licence new oil and gas projects. They are calling on students and faculty staff to march with Just Stop Oil in London this November. [1]

At around midday today, Daniel Knorr, 21, a biochemistry student and Noah Crane, 18, a recent A-Level graduate, used a fire extinguisher to paint the historic Radcliffe Camera building at Oxford University. Meanwhile, George Simonson, 23, a mechanical engineering graduate from the University of Edinburgh, used buckets of paint and spray cans to paint the glass facade of ‘The Forum’ on the Exeter University campus.

Speaking ahead of his action, Daniel Knorr, who studies at Oxford University, said: 

“I am taking action to resist the destruction of my generation. Oxford academics are fully aware of the scale of the climate crisis – this year Oxford scientists said that in a few years climate breakdown will routinely expose people to unsurvivable heat and humidity. In other words, hundreds of millions of people will be forced to move, or die. This is mass murder. It is genocide. It is no good to study the annihilation of everything we care about and do absolutely nothing about it, we have to act!” [2][3]

Students are demanding that university leaders make a public statement calling on the government to end new oil and gas projects, and make a commitment to join their students in marching on the streets of London, if the government fails to respond.

Speaking before taking action today, George Simonson, who lives in London, said:

“Studying engineering taught me that we already already have the solutions to address the climate crisis, what we lack is the political will. The politicians have been bought, and educational institutions are absolutely complicit in allowing them to continue this genocide. Universities are accepting tens of millions in dirty money and letting the fossil fuel companies come to careers fairs to give out free pens! Students have a duty to step up and show teaching institutions we won’t stand for it anymore.”

“Taking action gives me hope. One person has the power to put shockwaves through the system and challenge the status quo. If you feel powerless and terrified by what’s happening across the world right now, it only takes a small number of people taking action to show them that this can’t continue. This is what students across the country are doing, step up and march with us in November. Sign up at juststopoil.org/students.”

Recent reports have revealed that major fossil fuel companies have committed tens of millions of pounds in funding to UK universities since 2022. The University of Exeter has received the most from fossil fuel firms since 2022, having signed a £14.7m, five-year deal with Shell in November for a project on “carbon storage and sequestration”.

Oxford University was found to have received £1,209,221 in fossil fuel financial commitments since 2022. [4]

Today’s actions come hot on the heels of a record-breaking September, with temperatures peaking at 1.8C degrees above pre-industrial levels, smashing through the 1.5C Paris Agreement guardrail. Climate scientists have been vocal about their shock, with Zeke Hausfather from the Berkeley Earth climate data project calling it “absolutely gobsmackingly bananas”. Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, said earlier in the month, “Humanity has opened the gates to hell”. [5][6]

We are not prepared to stand by and watch while the government plans for millions to die and destroys everything we care about. It’s up to all of us now to come together and resist. We cannot let them divide us. Together we can be the real opposition this country needs and we will win. We will stop new oil and gas. People are coming together from all over the UK to march day after day in London from 29th October. It’s People vs Oil!


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High resolution Oxford photos with credit to Hugh Warwick

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Notes to Editors

[1] Just Stop Oil is a coalition of groups working together to demand that the government immediately halt all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK. Just Stop Oil is a member of the A22 Network of civil resistance projects. Climate Emergency Fund is Just Stop Oil’s primary funder for recruitment, training, and capacity building.

Just Stop Oil ‘Blue Lights’ policy: our policy is, and has always been, to move out of the way for emergency vehicles with siren sounding and ‘blue lights’ on.

[2] https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.adg9297

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/sep/08/deadly-humid-heatwaves-to-spread-rapidly-as-climate-warms-study

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/oct/04/uk-universities-take-41m-in-fossil-fuel-funding-since-2022

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/oct/05/gobsmackingly-bananas-scientists-stunned-by-planets-record-september-heat#:~:text=The%20hottest%20September%20on%20record,jump%20in%20temperature%20ever%20seen.

[6] https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/09/1141082#:~:text=With%20extreme%20weather%20events%20accelerating,of%20people%20fleeing%20historic%20wildfires.