Wood Group shows “utter contempt” for UK taxpayer, say activists, as they spray offices with fake oil - Extinction Rebellion UK

Wood Group shows “utter contempt” for UK taxpayer, say activists, as they spray offices with fake oil

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Campaigners condemn Wood Group for misusing £430m green transition loan and call for firm to Cut The Ties with the fossil fuel industry

 Climate activists are disrupting Wood Group’s offices in Surrey and Aberdeen this morning (3 July) to protest the engineering firm’s ties to the oil and gas sector and its decision to expand its fossil fuel business whilst receiving a taxpayer-backed green transition loan of £430m.

This latest action is part of the Cut The Ties campaign. Launched in November 2022, it is targeting the web of organisations propping up the fossil fuel economy and has so far carried out 28 actions at 22 sites. 

This morning activists are gathered outside Wood Group’s Aberdeen headquarters, where a campaigner dressed as Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, has poured fake oil over other protestors, symbolically drowning in oil as companies like the Wood Group profit from the destruction of the planet by servicing oil companies.

Two Extinction Rebellion activists were arrested for alleged criminal damage as other members of the huge global climate movement protested outside Wood Group’s office in Staines, Surrey, setting off smokes flats and using fire extinguishers to spray fake black oil across the entrance of the building.

At both sites protestors waved banners demanding the Wood Group “Cut The Ties To Fossil Fuels”.

This latest Cut The Ties action comes just weeks after an analysis by the Guardian and the investigative journalism organisation Point Source, revealed that Wood Group has expanded its oil and gas business and significantly shrunk its renewables operations, after receiving a £430m government-backed “green transition loan” in 2021 [1].

Wood Group was the first company to receive the loan, which aims to help companies transition to clean energy and create green jobs.

Instead, the analysis found that the group has cut its renewable business by 35% to $223 million and increased its oil and gas business by 17% to $3 billion, announcing 20 new major contracts working on oil, gas and petrochemical infrastructure and the sale of a key environmental business.

Extinction Rebellion is calling for a review of the way the loan is authorised, which is open to abuse by polluting and greenwashing companies.  

Wood Group founder Sir Ian Wood[2] has been highly influential in the oil and gas sector. His Wood Review, commissioned by the government, recommended fundamental changes in the regulation of fossil fuel reserves with the aim of maximising production of oil and gas in the UK[3]. 

In an extraordinary contradiction, these recommendations were adopted by the UK government in full, in 2015, the same year the Paris Agreement was signed – the first universal, legally binding global climate change agreement aiming to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Meeting the Paris Agreement target requires the scaling back of fossil fuel emissions, peaking by 2025 [4]. 

Lynn Binstock, age 66, from Teddington, a retired opera director said “There is real fury that the Wood Group is burning our future using money intended for transitioning their sector away from oil and gas extraction. They show utter contempt for UK taxpayers at a crucial moment when we cling to the hope of avoiding the worst effects of climate change”.

Pete Green, 42, a health professional from Aberdeen, said “As heat records are broken in Spain, China and North Africa, and as Canada burns, the world is waking up to the scale and speed at which climate change is destabilising life on earth.

 “Yet it seems nothing will stop the greed of the oil and gas industry, which wants to burn every last drop of oil. We know the majority of fossil fuels must be left in the ground if we are to have a survivable future. We demand the Wood Group Cuts The Ties to the fossil fuel industry, and uses its talents to speed up the transition to clean energy.”

 Extinction Rebellion has called for the end of new fossil fuels, in line with the International Energy Agency[5], the UN[6], the UK’s official climate advisory group the Climate Change Committee,[7] the Pope[8], the Dalai Lama[9], and many others.

Support Cut The Ties actions here: https://chuffed.org/project/lxkkq3mzp8etwux



[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jun/07/scottish-firm-expands-oil-and-gas-business-after-green-transition-loan

 [2] https://www.desmog.com/2016/03/29/not-even-osborne-s-1bn-fossil-fuel-tax-break-can-convince-some-oil-companies-stay-north-sea/  “If we are not careful we will recover only ten billion barrels of the 20 billion that are left [in UK waters],” Sir Ian lamented, calling for even greater government support to get every last drop of oil out of ground.

 [3] https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/wood-review-implementation-team

 [4] https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement

[5] https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidrvetter/2021/05/18/end-new-fossil-fuel-development-iea-demands-in-groundbreaking-net-zero-plan/ https://www.iea.org/news/pathway-to-critical-and-formidable-goal-of-net-zero-emissions-by-2050-is-narrow-but-brings-huge-benefits 

[6] https://www.iisd.org/articles/press-release/new-analysis-what-ipcc-energy-pathways-tell-us-about-paris-aligned-policies “no new oil and gas fields should be developed, no exploration should be conducted, and some fields will have to be retired before the end of their economic lifetime.”

[7] https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/2023-progress-report-to-parliament/ Expansion of fossil fuel production is not in line with Net Zero.

“As well as pushing forward strongly with new low-carbon industries, Net Zero also makes it necessary to move away from high-carbon developments.” “The UK will continue to need some oil and gas until it reaches Net Zero, but this does not in itself justify the development of new North Sea fields.”

 [8] https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/enough-with-fossil-fuels-pope-says-latest-climate-appeal-2023-05-25/

[9] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/21/101-nobel-laureates-call-for-global-fossil-fuel-non-proliferation-treaty

About Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a decentralised, international and politically non-partisan movement using non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

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Time has almost entirely run out to address the climate and ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and increasingly rapid climate change. If urgent and radical action isn’t taken, we’re heading towards 4˚C warming, leading to societal collapse and mass loss of life. The younger generation, racially marginalised communities and the Global South are on the front-line. No-one will escape the devastating impacts.

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