After The Oil Machine - how can we break our addiction to oil??

“THE OIL MACHINE explores the complexities of transitioning away from oil and gas as a society and considers how quickly we can do it.”


On 11 March, Sustainable Hackney re-started its ‘Film For Action’ Programme by screening “The Oil Machine”. Gratefully, Vicar Niall Weir of St. Paul’s West Hackney once again provided the Church Hall as the venue and all projector equipment to show the film on the big screen.

The film, directed by Emma Davie and produced by Sonja Henrici, reveals the hidden infrastructure of oil, from the North Sea rigs through the Grangemouth refinery on the Firth of Forth in the Scottish Lowlands to the London Stock Market. It compellingly shows how hugely our daily life is now based, and dependent on oil - from the toothpaste tube, to the trainers we put on; from the cups we drink from and the pots we plant flowers and herbs in, to the medicine we swallow and the toys we give our children.

It also shows the threat oil workers feel in losing their jobs through transitioning away from oil to renewable energy and materials, worrying that opportunities to build new industries onshore in decommissioning and renewable supply chains are being missed: "That’s my biggest fear — where is this transition and when’s it happening?"

In contrast, it shows how climate activists, in particular of the younger generation feel propelled by the environmental catastrophes that have already started all over the planet to raise their voices and demand immediate action, rather than live in a world ridden by environmental and ecological disasters, social unrest and unimaginable violence in their later years and in the full life cycles of future generations. While "feeling angry and also a bit helpless" when confronted with the scale of the oil machine, one young activist concludes: "Giving up isn’t really an option, even though these are massive companies that have so much more power than you." Or as the climate justice activist Mikaela Loach describes her motivation: "The only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning every day is, is this completely audacious idea that we can create this better world — that we can change things."

Encouraging and compelling are the statements made by the insurance company Aviva’s Head of its Global Responsible Investment Team about the urgent need and power of pension funds to transition investments to renewables: “No one knew when we built finance that basing it on fossil fuel power would cause such chaos. We now know so we have a duty as well as an imperative for our shareholders, for our clients, we have a duty to the world, we have a duty to future generations to now transition rapidly towards a lower carbon system.”

The screening was followed by thought-inspiring contributions by a panel of three expert activists, chaired by Sustainable Hackney’s Clare Taylor. We were fortunate that an executive producer of the film, James Mariott of @PlatformLondon, writer, activist and co-author of Crude Britannia could give further insights, summarising that "Effectively, we're living inside an oil machine. Oil has shaped our life for decades and also our thinking and feeling." Indigo Rumbelow from Just Stop Oil (JSO) and Sam Silverlock of XR Hackney pointed out what Hackney residents and grassroots organisations can and should do to push for the fair and thorough transition we so urgently need. Following a Q&A session with engaged questions and comments from the close to 100 participants, the evening closed with drinks and nibbles, and sales of Fairtrade goods organised by Sustainable Hackney’s Sandra McLeod and Cllr Gilbert Smyth, celebrating the 2023 Fairtrade Fortnight.

Please do your bit to make a change and stand up against Big Oil. Here are some actions you can take.

If you want to get more involved in non-violent direct actions (NVDA) against climate change, contact XR Hackney and/or Just Stop Oil.

Look out for our next thought-provoking Film for Action.

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