Dale Vince, a major funder of Just Stop Oil, has issued a warning that more high-profile sporting events will be targeted by the organization as it seeks to shake people out of their complacency in the face of a worsening climate crisis.
The recent disruption at Wimbledon, where workers ran onto Court 18 and delayed play by throwing pieces of confetti and jigs, is the latest incident. Similar protests have taken place at the World Snooker Championship, the Rugby Union Premiership Final and the Ashes Test at Lord’s.
Vince, who is also chairman of Forest Green Rovers, stressed that Just Stop Oil would continue its sporting protest regardless of the environmental efforts made by sporting events such as Wimbledon. He added that his choice of protest venues is not based on criteria such as whether a sport is eco-friendly or not. Instead, their focus is on creating disruption and grabbing headlines through high-profile actions.
While Vince did not reveal specific future plans for Just Stop Oil ahead of the Wimbledon protests, he urged sports fans to recognize that a brief disruption during the Games is insignificant compared to the devastating impact of climate change. He emphasized that millions of lives have already been lost due to the climate crisis and millions of people are displaced every year. In comparison, a delay of a few minutes in a sporting event is paltry.
Acknowledging that many people may agree with Just Stop Oil’s ideas but disagree with their disruptive methods, Vince asserted that disruptive protesting is the most effective means of raising awareness. They argued that simply standing on the sidelines with placards is less effective than actively disrupting everyday life and business as usual. The goal is to highlight the urgent need to address the global damages caused by the climate crisis.
Vince stressed that without significant global changes and a change in approach from the UK government, the climate crisis will continue to escalate. He drew an analogy between the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 lockdown and the potentially catastrophic consequences of a three-degree rise in global temperatures. Their aim is to rouse people from their complacency and demand action.
While Vince acknowledges that the government is the primary target of his protest because of his support of fossil fuel drilling despite scientific evidence, politicians such as Rishi Sunak have criticized his methods. Sunak said policy decisions should be made by elected representatives rather than disruptive activists. Police Minister Chris Phillips also called for increased security measures at sporting events and the use of injunctions to prevent disruptive acts.
In a recent court case, an Animal Rising activist who raced on the track in Derby was spared jail but fined for causing a public nuisance. The judge noted the danger posed to police and security staff during the incident.
Despite criticisms and legal repercussions, Just Stop Oil remains steadfast in its mission to raise awareness and push for action to combat the climate crisis. They will continue to target high-profile sporting events to draw attention to the urgent need for change.