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Activists block entrance to Britain’s largest oil refinery

Olympic sailor Laura Baldwin and gold-winning canoeist Etienne Stott join Extinction Rebellion's to demand government stop new fossil fuel investments

by Bethany Rielly

CLIMATE activists blocked the entrance to Britain’s largest oil refinery today to demand the government to stop new fossil fuel investments.

Olympic sailor Laura Baldwin and gold-winning canoeist Etienne Stott were among the 15 activists to break into Exxon Mobil’s Fawley refinery in Hampshire. 

Entering the site at 6.30am, seven members of Extinction Rebellion scaled two 50-foot silos and unfurled banners which read: “Climate emergency” and “No future in fossil fuels.”

Others chained themselves to a pink boat at the refinery’s entrance.

Protesters are calling for Exxon Mobil, which supplies a fifth of Britain’s fossil fuels through its subsidiary Esso Petroleum, to halt its expansion plans at Fawley refinery. 

It comes as PM Boris Johnson prepares to welcome world leaders to Glasgow on Sunday for the Cop26 climate conference. 

Ms Baldwin said that she decided to take direct action in a “desperate bid to force this suicidal system to change in time to limit the climate crisis worsening and slipping past the point of no return.

“That we as taxpayers are actually funding, through subsidies, the toxic and deadly oil industry is beyond absurd and it must stop now.”

Mr Stott, 42, urged the government to rein in “rogue” oil companies that “continue to put their profits ahead of everyone’s right to a future on a living planet.”

Exxon Mobil Fawley said that production at the plant was not affected by the protest today. 

An Exxon Mobil spokesman said: “Exxon Mobil believes that climate change risks warrant action and it’s going to take all of us — business, governments and consumers — to make meaningful progress.

“Our focus includes reducing our emissions, helping consumers reduce their emissions, and developing lower-emission energy solutions, including energy efficiency initiatives, biofuels, flare reduction and carbon capture and storage.”

But campaigners accused the firm of funding climate denial and misinformation and preventing a transition to greener energy.

They also condemned Exxon Mobil’s expansion of diesel production facilities at Fawley and its role in laying down a pipeline to supply Heathrow airport with oil.

A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary said: “Everyone has the right to free speech and protest. However, officers will take necessary action against the few who deliberately choose to act outside the law.”

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