Activism

Youth Climate Swarm: Who are the environmental activists blocking roads?

Youth Climate Swarm activists say they are planning a month of action in March 2021 that will involve blocking roads in major cities.

Activists say they will block roads for seven minutes at a time. Image: Youth Climate Swarm

A collective of young people have been blocking roads across England since the start of the year, and are now warning of a month of action in March to “take on” the oil industry. 

The Youth Climate Swarm seem to have taken inspiration from Insulate Britain protesters who made national headlines for glueing themselves to motorways last year. And with Insulate Britain seemingly calling it a day following a string of prison sentences for its members, they may be looking to fill the void.

Swarming is a tactic where many individuals quickly gather to block traffic and cause disruption on roads, aiming for minimal risk to the individual. The logic goes that if enough people gather together, there is protection in numbers. 

Here’s everything we know about the activists.

Who are Youth Climate Swarm?

The Youth Climate Swarm say they are a collection of non-violent activists for people aged up to 30, and are affiliated with the Just Stop Oil campaign.

Like Insulate Britain, the group is based on the premise that disruption is a necessary part of civil resistance and this is their chosen method of forcing the government to take action. 

What does Youth Climate Swarm want?

The key demand of the Youth Climate Swarm is to stop the use of fossil fuels in the UK, with two additional demands that support this. Ultimately, the group is calling on the government to immediately halt all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels.

“Allowing the extraction of new oil and gas resources in the UK is an obscene and genocidal policy that will kill our generation and condemn humanity to oblivion,” says a statement on the group’s website. 

The group is also calling for an end to the development of the Cambo oil field that sits 75 miles west of Shetland and contains more than 800 million barrels of oil ​​– a big enough reserve to sustain 25 years of extraction.

“We can do it now, in an orderly manner – creating millions of proper skilled jobs and protecting the rights of workers in sunset industries – or we wait for the unavoidable collapse,” they say. 

To cut the need and demand for oil, the group is demanding that all UK homes be insulated to make them more energy efficient. This would, in turn, reduce the impact of central heating on the environment, and make fuel bills more affordable.

And lastly, they’re seeking free public transport to further encourage people to ditch their cars in favour of a method of transport that requires less oil. 

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What is Youth Climate Swarm doing?

The Youth Climate Swarm are organising their first national gathering on Saturday February 12 in Manchester, Bristol and Brighton. Buses will be transporting young activists from Glasgow and London to join the event in Manchester. 

Unlike Insulate Britain activists who occupied roads for prolonged periods of time, Youth Climate Swarm states that their blockades will last for seven minutes, repeatedly. 

The tactic has already been used in Brighton and Bristol where traffic was disrupted across the city as activists blocked various roads.

Around 30 young people took part in the swarm in Bristol city centre in January, brandishing banners reading “stop burning our future”. A week later, protestors swarmed in Glasgow, and cars were forced to turn around in Brighton city centre as protestors blocked multiple roads.

The group says: “We are mobilising hundreds of young people for civil resistance in March” to take on the oil industry. 

Anything else we need to know?

Youth Climate Swarm have said they will soon be holding talks in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kent, Stirling, Aberdeen, Dundee, St Andrews. They also say that they will be talking at universities across the country over the next month.

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