Photo courtesy of The Future/Jess Kohl
Remember "The Future"? They're a group of environmental activists we last met at their abortive attempt to infiltrate a UKIP meeting. They wanted to burst in, stare at Nigel Farage for ages and make him feel bad for not giving a shit about global warming. Unfortunately, security took a look at their skinny jeans and snapbacks and more or less immediately clocked that they weren't your average gaggle of UKIP supporters.
They haven't been discouraged though - and today, it sounds like they had more success. Two of them went along to an oil industry conference in Mayfair, skipped past security and disrupted it by throwing tons of rape alarms around.
The conference was called "Oil and Money", which is nice and self-explanatory. The attendees pay £3,015 to chat about making money out of oil. Obviously, that means their financial interests are kind of at odds with using less of the stuff to save the world from drowning and burning thanks to climate change. The Future basically wanted to point that out and again, make the conference attendees feel bad.
I called one of the activists, Tamsin, to ask how it went.
Tamsin Omond, having The Future's circle eye symbol applied.
VICE: Hi Tamsin, how was the action?
**Tamsin: **Yeah it was great; I want to do it again.
Tell me what happened.
The lift opened at the registration point for the conference. As it opened, we bolted down this corridor with rape alarms, jumped through a security point with a metal detector, rounded the corner and all these people were standing, milling outside the main conference room. And then we were like, "Which door do we go in?" We opened the door and everyone was sitting there; there was a man on the stage talking and we started chanting, "Oil is fucking our future and we are fighting back!"
Alright, then what?
Security then caught up with us and tackled us to the ground before carrying us out. But they had to take us around the hall itself and all the while we were shouting, "Oil is fucking our future and we are fighting back! Oil is fucking our future and we are fighting back!" in a breathless way where you're so excited you feel you're going to be sick.
They took us outside and one of the organisers was there. She was like, "We have to call the police, put them somewhere." And we just ran off. So I think their security will get in trouble. But no one missed it. Everyone in the conference heard it. So that was really good.
Photo courtesy of The Future/Jess Kohl
Why did you target this conference?
It's a networking event for the elites of the oil and gas industries, where they can work out how to exploit the social insecurity in the world to sell oil and gas during a time of massive climate change. So it's beyond satire that they would hold a conference called Oil and Money when they are the richest of the rich and they have access to the most precious resource.
"Oil and Money" does sound kind of satirically straightforward.
It's just like, how grotesque is it that the wealthiest people in the world who are directly responsible for climate change - which is going to make everyone's futures more difficult to thrive in - are meeting in one of the most affluent areas of London away from public scrutiny? One of the conference meetings was about how they can avoid climate change policy that is coming out that will potentially cost them $1 trillion.
We really need to work out how we are going to survive climate change. And one thing that we know is that we need to stop talking fossil fuels out of the ground. So it was important to go there and let them know they are under scrutiny; they are responsible to people other than their shareholders. They are responsible to the whole of human civilization.
How did people react?
This guy came out who was one of the conference attendees and he was taking photos on his iPhone. He was like, "God it was so boring in there. This is the most exiting thing that has happened."
I guess most people didn't react like that.
Most people's reaction was shock and horror and you know that thing where you go into a private stage where they feel so safe that no one is going to disrupt it. So it was kind of like if you did something wrong at Christmas. It felt like this sacred space had been interrupted, with us running in there with our rape alarms.
Without oil, civilization would cease to function, so didn't the conference have some legitimate business to be getting on with?
That would be an extraordinary situation. At the moment we are paying such a high-risk game. The oil industry isn't going to disappear tomorrow but we need to transition to a carbon neutral future. We need to be carbon neutral by 2050 and at the moment oil companies are looking to exploit and extract everything that is in the ground. There is no plan for them to transition. So a no-oil-tomorrow isn't going to happen. But we need oil companies to realise their current business model is unsustainable.
Tamsin Omond and Lindsay Alderton looking chuffed after they pissed off some oil execs with rape alarms
What do you feel like you achieved today?
Oil companies feel they are above the law. And in many ways they are, because they have enough money to make themselves unaccountable. We wanted to come face to face with the leaders of these companies and let them know they are responsible for our future. We wanted to look them in the eye as we did that we are fighting back. And around the world people are rising up against the industry as they need to employ more destructive methods, digging under the Arctic, fracking in the UK...
By the way, why do you guys always draw a circle on your eye?
It's been worn by kids in Brazil in the middle of drought plains where there used to be reservoirs. It's been worn by people in Somerset when their houses flooded and they had flood water up to their chest. It's been worn by Japanese kids in the area where mud slides are happening more and more regularly because they're already victims of environmental disaster. We wear it to say we are connected to these people and that we're going to use whatever power we have to hold politicians and corporations to account. It's to show we are connected to these fights but it's all a symbol to show we are watching these people.
Okay, got it. Thanks, Tamsin.