Profiting from poverty

Campaigners dropped a banner with the slogan ‘stop polluting politics’ from Westminster Bridge and set off smoke flares to announce the start of a new campaign to end the fossil fuel lobby’s influence on UK politics.

The stunt took place as MPs returned to parliament after Easter recess, amid speculation about the date of the general election. In the run-up to the election, the brand new Stop Polluting Politics campaign will challenge current and prospective MPs to reject donations from high-polluting industries.

Campaigners argue donations and lobbying by the fossil fuel industry are leading politicians to abandon vital climate policies.


The Conservative Party, which recently handed out over 100 new oil and gas licences and proposed compulsory annual North Sea licensing rounds, took 3.5 million pounds from polluters, fossil fuel companies and climate deniers in 2022. 

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow chancellor, accepted £10,000 from a climate sceptic donor. The party later ditched its £28 billion green investment pledge. Lord Donoughue, the donor and Labour peer, told The Telegraph: “The donation was totally unrelated.”

In recent years, the UK has witnessed record-breaking heatwaves every summer, while rising oil and gas prices have increased fuel poverty in the winter: 6.5 million households struggled to heat their homes this January. Meanwhile, Big Oil reports billions in profits.

According to the Climate Change Committee, the government’s own advisory body, the UK needs faster action to reach its emissions targets and help prevent climate breakdown. 


Sam Simons, a spokesperson for the Stop Polluting Politics campaign, said: “Handing out donations, lobbying policymakers and bankrolling biased think tanks, big polluters are doing everything they can to delay climate action.

“This general election will be decisive for our lives and our climate. We have all seen the disastrous floods in Libya and wildfires in Greece, and we have felt the effects of climate breakdown ourselves. 

“Every summer, we experience more extreme heatwaves, and every winter, millions of families must choose between heating and eating – meanwhile, energy companies celebrate record profits.

“Instead of stepping in to take action, our leaders let the fossil fuel industry fill their pockets and erode their promises. Every penny they take from polluters betrays our trust. We demand that our politicians put a stop to this toxic influence and make their loyalties clear: do they work for us? Or do they work for Big Oil?”

This Author 

Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist.


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