Attacks on a Van Gogh painting and waxwork of King Charles have made 'Just Stop Oil' famous: Who are they and what are they up to?
Whether you'd heard of them vandalizing a waxwork of Britain's King Charles III in London’s Madame Tussauds with cake, hurling soup over Vincent Van Gogh’s iconic ‘Sunflowers’, gluing themselves to a tarmac to block traffic, or disrupting major sporting events, chances are you already familiar with "Just Stop Oil" and its activities.
This environmental group has been in existence for less than a year, but has already made a lot of noise in the media with its scandalous actions. So, who's bankrolling this show?
Since launching in February 2022, the environmental civil resistance group has engaged in a wide variety of attention-seeking protest actions, and provoked intense media debate as to whether their objectives justify their means, and if the catastrophic forecasts from its activists – of total planetary destruction in the very near future, if traditional energy sources aren’t dumped immediately, and forever, by governments across the world – have any evidentiary basis at all.
However, even in critical reporting, vital questions about Just Stop Oil’s origins and funding sources have been largely not asked, an incredible oversight given its rapid rise to mainstream prominence. Answers lie in plain sight though, and they offer major cause for concern about the group’s true objectives, and the interests its activism serves.
For one, while Just Stop Oil’s finances are almost completely opaque, its website invites supporters to donate via Ethereum. By some calculations, every single transaction using the cryptocurrency creates 34 kilograms of CO2 – roughly the same amount of energy the average US household burns through in two-and-a-half days. Ethereum therefore consumes more energy annually in total than the entire country of Denmark
In September, it announced changes that it claims will reduce its carbon emissions by over 99%, although crypto experts consulted by leading tech magazine The Verge strongly doubt whether this will actually be achieved. At the very least, for the first seven months of its existence, Just Stop Oil depended on donations made in secret via a cryptocurrency with huge carbon footprint.
To date, the only publicly confirmed backer of Just Stop Oil is the US-based Climate Emergency Fund, which provides grants and funding for green movements and organizations worldwide. It is led by Aileen Getty, an heir to the $5.4 billion Getty fortune, which was acquired through the family’s oil company. This has led to widespread accusations that the fossil fuel industry is sponsoring Just Stop Oil in order to discredit environmental activism.
There is no evidence that Getty has any financial interest in fossil fuels or would somehow profit from the disruptive actions of Just Stop Oil turning the public against green causes and advocates. She in fact appears sincerely committed to using her enormous fortune to undermine the traditional energy industry. Many major environmental protest groups have benefited from her largesse, including the controversial Extinction Rebellion (XR).
Founder’s rape fantasies
That Just Stop Oil and XR both receive hundreds of thousands of dollars from the same source is notable for more reasons than one. The pair’s unruly tactics, and those of Insulate Britain, another environmental activist group, have frequently been compared, which is unsurprising given they were all directly influenced by one man, Roger Hallam, who also helped found the three.
Hallam’s apocalyptic views on climate are summed up in his rambling, impenetrable 12,200 word “manifesto.” Resembling the crazed excesses of a fever dream, he predicts that in the next 30 years, weather will be “destroyed,” leading to “starvation and the collapse of our society” and “war and violence, the slaughter of young men and the rape of young women on a global scale.”
His original treatise was somehow even more manic, and rape-obsessed. Among the scenarios Hallam fantasized was climate change leading to “a gang of boys” breaking into the reader’s home “demanding food,” who then “see your mother, your sister, your girlfriend,” and “gang rape her on the kitchen table.” This and other passages were removed due to media condemnation.
Hallam wrote the manifesto while in prison for breaching bail conditions, after repeatedly attempting to shut down London’s Heathrow Airport using civilian drones in Summer 2019. This had originally been a plan endorsed by XR, but was eventually dropped. He personally wasn’t discouraged though, and simply set up a new organization, Heathrow Pause, to carry out the action anyway.
The protest failed to ground a single plane or compromise the airport’s operation in any way, although it did succeed in getting the organizers arrested, prosecuted and in some cases jailed.
This episode, along with an action the next year in which Beyond Politics – yet another civil disobedience group founded by Hallam – burst into the London offices of NGOs including Amnesty International and Greenpeace, poured paint over the walls and floors and demanded the organizations order their members to “rise up against the government.” This led to XR cutting all ties with him.
Despite the apparent divorce, XR has continued to employ disruption strategies concocted by Hallam, many of which endanger public safety, and run a high risk of triggering public backlash against the group and environmental activism more generally. Officially, these same concerns prompted XR to abandon its action targeting Heathrow. An alternative explanation could be that Rebellion’s biggest backer, billionaire hedge fund manager Christopher Hohn, has a €730 million stake in the airport.
All roads lead to Soros
Hedge funds profit from chaos. A key example of this was the September 1992 shorting of the British pound. Known as Black Wednesday, it earned financial manager Quantum Funds $1.8 billion in a single day, and the company’s owner George Soros the nickname as 'The Man Who Broke the Bank of England.'
Given that XR – and Stop Big Oil, and Insulate Britain, and it seems every group founded by Hallam – deliver chaos, it may not be coincidental that the first group at least is confirmed to have received financing from Soros’ notorious Open Society Foundations (OSF).
Back in August 2019, an independent researcher got hold of internal XR documents related to the group’s funding. They showed that it had raised at least $1 million in its first year of operation – a figure that might be substantially bigger, given the total donation from the OSF isn’t listed, unlike the contribution of any other backer. This sum is apparently kept secret even from XR insiders themselves.
Other documents released by the researcher are even more stark. A self-authored “overview” of XR’s activities lays out its “aims,” which include showing “radical people (and internationally) that it is possible to have an impossible plan and carry out a rebellion…also to support further uprisings.”
Elsewhere in the “overview,” XR activists are called upon to “test prototypes in preparation for the coming structural collapse of the regimes of Western democracies…thus preparing a foundation to transform society.” It could be that Hallam was exploited to come up with such “prototypes” and tossed them aside when he got ahead of himself and threatened the business interests of XR backers.