If you wanted a real-life example of the popular Netflix film Don’t Look Up – then Ed Balls handily provided it on Good Morning Britain yesterday.
The former MP, presenting the show alongside Susanna Reid, laid into protesters from Just Stop Oil for disrupting the British Grand Prix on Sunday.
“You are the people in society who target people going about their normal lives to affect their campaign,” Ed Balls said. “That isn’t Gandhi. That isn’t the civil rights movement. That’s what terrorism is.”
Someone please hand Ed Balls a dictionary and a history book. If this was terrorism then Just Stop Oil would already be on trial – not on GMB sofas. Moreover, Gandhi was not exactly welcomed with open arms for his non-violent ways either. In 1922 he was arrested, tried for the charge of sedition and jailed for six years, at the height of his peaceful campaign.
Balls then went on to say there was nothing wrong with investing in new oil and gas projects, which Just Stop Oil want an end to. But it’s the former shadow chancellor who is now on the extremist fringe, not the climate protesters – even the head of the UN has said investing in new oil and gas projects is “moral and economic madness”. The head of the International Energy Agency – long seen as a voice for oil companies – is also calling on everyone to stop investing in new oil and gas projects.
Calling for an end to new fossil fuel investments is now the established consensus among those working to stop climate change. But it is the minimum we have to do – not as far as we need to go.
I understand that some people find such protestors disruptive and possibly annoying. But if you want a world where disruptive protests are not allowed, you could try living in China, which has “anti-protest laws”.
The climate protesters even have economic arguments on their side.
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Clean energy is far cheaper – prices have fallen by 90 per cent since 2010 – than fossil fuels. It is now usually cheaper to build a new solar or wind farm from scratch than run an existing coal powered station to create electricity. We don’t do this because we are locked into agreements to keep subsidising dirty energy.
Investing in new oil and gas projects won’t reduce energy prices either. New oil investments take eight years on average to produce results, and prices are controlled by Saudi Arabia and Russia anyway. These investments will be defunct in 1-20 years, and British taxpayers will be forced to pay to rescue them, as we have done in the past.
As a bonus, clean energy doesn’t produce any asthma-inducing pollution either.
To alleviate our energy crisis, the British government could allow wind farms to be built on British land and it could speed up investment into solar energy. Both efforts would deliver faster results and cut the cost of our electricity much quicker.
The economic case and moral case for ending new investment into fossil fuels is now abundantly clear.