| 17 June 2024, Monday |

Protesters drape home of UK PM Sunak in black fabric over oil policy

Protesters from Greenpeace intensified their campaign against British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government’s oil drilling policy on Thursday by covering his private residence in black cloth.

Following his declaration that he would adopt a “proportionate approach” to climate change that strikes a compromise between the need to keep consumer costs low and net zero objectives, Sunak’s record on environmental matters has been under intense criticism in recent months.

That has drawn fury from climate protesters who have stepped up their campaigns, disrupting high-profile sporting events, classical music concerts and political speeches.

In response, Sunak’s ministers have introduced new laws to clamp down on “eco-mob” protester tactics including slow walking in busy roads and “locking-on” to buildings or infrastructure.

Pictures posted online by Greenpeace UK on Thursday showed four protesters atop the property in Yorkshire, northern England, covering it in swathes of black fabric, while a banner read “RISHI SUNAK – OIL PROFITS OR OUR FUTURE?”

Around two hours later at 11:00 BST (1000 GMT), four protesters were still on the roof with a sign saying “NO NEW OIL.”

Greenpeace said they were protesting the government’s backing for new North Sea oil and gas licences and a proposed development of Equinor’s (EQNR.OL) Rosebank oilfield, which is subject to a final investment decision.

“We desperately need our prime minister to be a climate leader, not a climate arsonist,” Greenpeace UK said.

Sunak went on holiday to California on Wednesday. Police said they had contained the area and no one has entered the building.

A separate protest also took place outside Sunak’s official Downing Street residence and office on Thursday.


Britain in 2019 set a 2050 net zero carbon emission target and was quick to build up its renewable energy capacity.

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has turned the spotlight on energy security, with the government on Monday committing to granting hundreds of licences for North Sea oil and gas extraction as part of efforts to become more energy independent.

It also approved its first new deep coal mine in decades in December.

A poll released on Wednesday showed 67% of voters thought the government was handling environmental issues badly, the worst rating since mid-2019 when YouGov began tracking public opinion on the issue.

Some in Sunak’s Conservative party are alarmed over the prime minister’s perceived backsliding over environmental commitments, with one minister, who quit in June, saying Sunak was uninterested in green issues.

Sunak defended his environmental record on Wednesday, saying Britain had done a better job than other major countries in cutting carbon emissions.

“We make no apology for taking the right approach to ensure our energy security, using the resources we have here at home so we are never reliant on aggressors like (Vladimir) Putin for our energy,” a source in his office said on Thursday.

  • Reuters