Time after time, Just Stop Oil supporters come up against questions like these: ‘How can we live without oil?’ ‘Aren’t we going to need oil and gas for decades to come?’ ‘‘Do you want to drive us all back to the Stone Age?’
They’re accused of being naive, focusing on the ‘stop’ part of the equation without having any answers on what comes after. And yes, Just Stop Oil is laser-focused on stopping new oil and gas. There’s nothing naive about that: it’s the power of streamlining intention and action, keeping eyes on the prize and refusing to waste energy on anything else.
At the same time, implicit in ‘just stop’ is ‘just start’. You can’t have an ending without a new beginning. Supporters of Just Stop Oil wouldn’t get out of bed and onto the streets if they didn’t hold on to the prospect of a new horizon: the post-oil world that’s our only possible future.
So while outside the campaign’s immediate scope, it’s still worth exploring the after-life of Just Stop Oil. Life after oil will come soon – it has to. But what will this safer, fairer, post-oil world look like in reality?
To answer that question, let’s take an imaginary tour of a post-carbon community. Maybe it’s a town just like yours. As you walk around and talk to friends and neighbours, you’ll soon find out that most of them are better off. For those who used to work in carbon-intensive industries, like aviation and fossil fuels, the transition to roles in the renewable sector has brought a new sense of pride and security. They’re now part of the future, not the past.
Thanks to street-by-street insulation and heat pump installation, people’s homes are warmer – yet their fuel bills are a fraction of what they were in 2023. The air is clean, both inside and outdoors. Streets are so quiet you can hear the sound of bike wheels whirring, and children laughing as they walk to school.