A think tank that received money from an oil company later released a report advising the government to criminalize Extinction Rebellion in its tough new crime laws.
Several Conservative MPs and colleagues cited Policy Exchange’s 2019 report in Parliament, and Home Secretary Priti Patel reiterated her claims that the climate activists were “extremists”.
Many of the report’s recommendations, including “strengthening the police’s ability to impose restrictions on planned protests and deal more effectively with mass law-breaking tactics,” later appeared in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act.
A new investigation by news website openDemocracy shows that the think tank received $30,000 (£25,000) from US oil company ExxonMobil in 2017.
Policy Exchange and Exxon declined to comment.
There is no indication that the money provided by the oil company funded the report.
However, Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton, claimed the Police Act appears to have been “stained with the dirty, oil-soaked hands of the fossil fuel lobby”.
“This proposed government legislation would go against the basic rights of protesters to challenge the very climate-damaging policies being espoused by this downright dangerous industry.”
She said, “If [the government’s] The long touted “climate leadership” needs to have some credibility, it needs to clarify its ties to the fossil fuel lobby immediately.”
OpenDemocracy noted that ExxonMobil donated the money to Policy Exchange’s US fundraising division in 2017. The American Friends of Policy Exchange is a US non-profit organization formed in 2010 “to support and advance Policy Exchange UK’s programme” and has received nearly $5 million in anonymous donations since 2012, according to the public accessible financial records. Exxon Mobil, the largest oil company in the US, said in its annual fundraising report that it supports the American Friends of Policy Exchange along with several other organizations because they evaluate “alternative public policy actions on issues affecting the petroleum and petrochemical industries.” are of importance”. The donation was made for ‘Energy and Environment’, the name of a policy area listed on the think tank’s website.
In 2019, XR activists “locked down” the London Underground, preventing commuters from getting to work and bringing much of the capital to a standstill while calling for action on the climate crisis. At that time, the government was under pressure from parts of the press and the public to crack down on the climate protesters.
Patel said the new bill was designed to stop “mobs” like Extinction Rebellion from “running rampage” and includes measures to criminalize methods used by environmental activists, such as B. “Connecting” to the infrastructure.
Paul Stott, the head of security and extremism at Policy Exchange, wrote in a recent blog that the bill is evidence that some of the think tank’s recommendations to address “the mechanics of intentional disruption of the public space.” were persecuted by the government.
Civil rights groups have condemned the government’s plans, and Amnesty International UK said they were comparable to “repressive policies” in Russia, Hong Kong and Belarus.
A spokesman for Extinction Rebellion claimed the government is “run by think tanks working for fossil fuel customers, which means our laws are written for the benefit of foreign oil and gas companies.” But they said it shows their protests are having an impact: “Those protesting for change should be able to count on us frightening the fossil fuel industry and the UK government – it means that what we are doing , works and that it works The key now is not to be intimidated, but to be empowered and ready to keep up the pressure.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “The Public Order Act, made possible by the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, will put an end to the significant disruption being caused by a selfish minority of protesters who are defending the rights disturb the British public to go about their daily lives in peace.
“This law supports the police in taking proactive measures and preventing such disturbances in the first place. The government regularly consults a wide range of opinions to develop legislation – this is no different.”