THREE fathers were among 11 Devon Just Stop Oil supporters slow marching in London this week to demand the UK government end all new oil and gas licences.
A total of 70 from the West Country travelled to the capital to slow march continuously each day, bringing traffic to a standstill on major roads.
Two fathers took part in a special 'Dads' March' on Thursday morning, which ended in a short occupation of Selfridges department store.
The dads marched through the store with signs saying ‘fathers for a future’ and ‘will our children survive 3.5 degrees?’ at one point posing next to a Delorean, the iconic car from ‘Back to the Future’.
They say they were 'muscled out of the store' by security guards after 15 minutes.
One of those in Selfridges was Dave Kilroy, a dad of two from Plymouth, who said: 'Nobody likes it when an alarm rings, they're annoying and disruptive – but we’ve all been ignoring the climate emergency alarm for too long and we really can’t afford to do that anymore. It’s time to wake up, listen to the experts, and stop issuing new oil licences.
'We’re on course for our world to heat by 3 degrees or more this century, a world where we see mass starvation, severe droughts, and untold suffering for billions of people – and this is not a future I accept for my kids. I’m marching with Just Stop Oil because civil resistance is our only hope. I urge everyone to pick a side: life or death, and then just us on the streets.'
Another on the march was Lewis Sleeman, 45, a small business owner from Exeter, who said: 'Like so many people, I'm really concerned about the deadly effects of the climate crisis – floods, droughts, crop failures, heatwaves, storms, and wildfires which are now regularly featured in our news headlines.
'I’m also angry that this government is consistently failing to take the basic steps necessary to keep us safe, instead focusing its attention on demonising and criminalising ordinary people like us, while protecting the profits of big fossil fuel companies like Shell, BP and Equinor.
'Taking disruptive action like this is uncomfortable and none of us wants to be here – but this is a life and death issue for our children and billions of kids around the globe and I will not be a bystander while their futures are destroyed.'
Darcy Mitchell, 48, a father from Totnes, who was also marching with Just Stop Oil this week, said: 'I'm a parent, so I have to be here. This crisis has killed hundreds of thousands of children, and it's getting worse in front of our eyes. I won't let our government prioritise donations from fossil fuel interests over human lives. That's my responsibility as a parent. My children know I will protect them.'
A spokesperson for JustStopOilt SW said: 'This week’s action comes amid reports that Europe’s record breaking heatwave has claimed its first life this summer, prompting health warnings for tourists.
'The European Space Agency suggests that the heatwave has only just begun. Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Poland are all experiencing extreme heat. The islands of Sicily and Sardinia are expected to hit 48°C– potentially the hottest temperatures ever recorded in Europe.
'ESA reports that yesterday land surface temperatures reached over 50°C in Sicily, and Spain saw land surface temperatures reach 60°C.
'Just Stop Oil supporters have completed up to seven marches a day, six days a week since April. Over 800 ordinary people from all over the UK have taken part. Including arrests at the Coronation and cultural and sporting events there have been around 238 arrests this year.
'Since the Just Stop Oil campaign launched on February 14, 2022, there have been over 2,200 arrests and 138 people have spent time in prison, many without trial. Just Stop Oil supporters Morgan Trowland and Marcus Decker are serving three-year prison sentences for resisting new oil, gas and coal in the longest sentences for peaceful climate action in British history.
'It’s time to pick a side and join in civil resistance to end new oil, gas and coal. We are inviting everyone to come and march with us every day in London from the 16th-23rd July.