By Donnachadh McCarthy, 25th Jan 2024

There is only ONE REASON why Just Stop Oil climate protectors are being jailed:

The UK’s 4 climate-trashing media billionaires insisted that they be jailed. 

There is only ONE REASON why Just Stop Oil’s key single demand #NoNewOil has not been implemented by the UK government: 

The UK’s 4 climate-trashing media billionaires insisted that the UK government reject JSO and instead max out UK North Sea oil and gas reserves. 

For many climate protectors who do not read the billionaire owned tabloids (Mail, Sun,Telegraph) or watch their new far-right TV stations GB News and Talk TV, this may seem exaggerated. Many are unaware of the full-scale billionaire-media war being waged on UK climate action and how despite dwindling circulations, they wield enormous unaccountable political power over UK policy, including climate policy. 

Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s chief adviser, outlined to a Parliamentary Select Committee the direct impact the right-wing media had on Johnson’s decision making. The Climate Media Coalition in 2022 carried out an analysis of the process leading up to the UK government’s energy security strategy, drafted after the energy crisis provoked by the invasion of Ukraine. 

We looked at opinion polling on eight energy policy issues covered by the strategy. We then analysed the coverage of these issues in the editorial and comment pages of the billionaire media. And finally, we looked at the government policy positions adopted by the published strategy. The eight policy issues were: onshore wind, offshore wind, solar, nuclear, fusion, insulation, fracking and new North-sea oil drilling.

The public by significant majorities supported onshore wind, offshore wind, solar and insulation. They opposed new North Sea oil and gas, fracking and nuclear. There was no polling on fusion. The billionaire media supported new North Sea oil and gas, fracking, nuclear and fusion. They opposed onshore wind, insulation and solar. 

The government’s final strategy? 

Every single policy position reflected the eight policy positions of the billionaire media! Only one item reflected what the public supported. The only one also supported by the billionaire media. 

We are the only nation on earth to have had a de facto ban on onshore wind for the last decade after the Telegraph and Mail demanded it be banned. This evidence graphically demonstrates the raw climate-trashing political power of the UK’s billionaire press and the threat it poses to humanity and what is left of nature. 

Murdoch (owner of the Sun) and Rothermere (owner of The Mail) abused their power by bullying the police and government into introducing not just one but TWO new  Acts of Parliament, to punitively try to destroy Just Stop Oil, Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion and are actively lobbying for a third, following the peaceful Palestinian protests. 

The Guardian has reported that distinguished international scientists identified Rupert Murdoch, as one of the key media billionaires endangering humanity. 

Prof Lesley Hughes, Australian Climate Change Authority said: 

“Rupert Murdoch bears enormous responsibility for the world’s lack of action on climate. His outlets promote scepticism about climate science that undermines the need to act.”

Prof Michael Mann, University of Pennsylvania, said Murdoch is 

“one of the most destructive forces in modern history when it comes to climate action”. He wields his media empire as a cudgel to sow doubt about science and solutions. He is one of the greatest climate villains.”

Dr Friederike Otto, Grantham Institute said: 

“Murdoch leaves a terrible legacy, that people are paying for, with lives and livelihoods. Climate protesters are portrayed as people trying to make life difficult for the average person, whereas of course they try to make it better”

So what strategy should the climate movement now move forward with?

What are the four pillars of the fossil fuelled economy? They are the government that regulates it, the oil industry that operates it, the banks that fund it but most importantly the corporate media that give it the social and political licence to operate. The media pillar is THE foundational pillar on which the other three depend.

And the UK’s media billionaires Rupert Murdoch, Lord Rothermere, the Barclays and Paul Marshall have captured that pillar. Therefore, the climate movement’s TOP-PRIORITY must be one way or another to remove the billionaire climate-trashing media and instead create a free Fourth Estate that backs the urgent climate action and wildlife repair necessary.  

We must replace a bought press with a free press!

The world has recognised how Ukraine has a right to self-defence from the brutal Russian invasion. It is time for the climate movement to recognise that all of humanity has a far, far -greater right to self-defence from the media billionaires’ war to destroy the climate, upon which nature and all future generations’ lives depend. 

But excitingly, in this battle there is a huge coalition out there gagging for leadership. Not least, the 76% of the UK public horrified by the billionaire-media backed Gazan genocide. There are deep chilling parallels between their support for the horrific Gazan genocide and their support for climate genocide and how both usurp British democracy. In the crucial parliamentary vote, 71% of MPs backed the billionaire media’s opposition to the ceasefire and betrayed their own constituents!

There is hardly a section of the population that the billionaire media have not vilified at one time or another. These include NHS staff, gay people, trade-unions, wildlife protectors, freedom of the press campaigners, human rights advocates, refugees, immigrants, EU residents, civil servants, locally elected councils, the disabled, the unemployed, travellers, Muslims, women, cyclists, the Church of England, etc etc. 

When Extinction Rebellion successfully blockaded Murdoch’s printing works for just 12 hours in 2020, a ripple of excitement ran across the nation. Finally, somebody had stood up to the billionaire media dictatorship brutalising Britain. Just imagine what would happen, if we broke the hold they have on our democracy? Imagine if every front page constantly screamed for action on climate and wildlife?! 

The fossil fuelled criminal establishment would be gone within a year. 

The banks would be funding the renewable energy economy, the government would regulate for a net zero economy by 2030 and the oil corporations would become renewable energy corporations. 

If Just Stop Oil and the wider climate movement are to win (and we must!) – then it needs to now focus, focus, focus on the one key positive and uplifting political revolution that can enable our success – peaceful direct action and building a pan-societal coalition to win the media battle for human and wildlife survival. 

It is the media stupid!


Analysis: Record opposition to climate action by UK’s right-leaning newspapers in 2023

Donnachadh McCarthy, is a director of the Climate Media Coalition ( and was in 2015, one of the first people to be arrested for a peaceful direct action demanding the criminalisation of investments in new fossil fuels. He is a former Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrats and the author of The Prostitute State. (, E-book version is free to JSO activists & supporters from [email protected]