Scottish Oil Club Dinner Occupied

Last night in the capital 30 Extinction Rebellion Scotland activists occupied the main hall of the National Museum of Scotland to disrupt the annual dinner of the Scottish Oil Club. 890 fossil fuel industry executives annually celebrate the success of their trade and network to further its interests.

At 5pm, a group of around 30 activists sat down in the middle of the main hall and held a peaceful People’s Assembly focusing on the damage done to the world by the fossil fuel industry and paths to transition away from it immediately.

When asked to leave by the police, a number agreed to leave. 13 people stayed and continued the Assembly. 6 were locked together with D-locks. All 13 were arrested and eventually taken away by the police with last arrestees leaving the space around 8pm.

Outside, around 300 protestors had a party on the street with music, bands, dancing, speeches and ceilidhs. When guests started arriving, protestors lined the entrance to the museum and sang, chanted and spoke to them about the climate emergency.

This action was planned in a context of rapid and uncontrollable climatic breakdown that is unprecedented in the course of human history.

Mim Black, 26, commented

“The fossil fuel industry has hoodwinked the British public into believing they are an asset to the country – I believe it is a drain. Fossil fuel lobbying threatens democracy. Climate chaos is already underway across the planet, and we know that the fossil fuel industry is a major driver of this. We must immediately start putting safety before profit.”

Lauren McGlynn commented:

“The oil industry has brought us to the brink of extinction. They have irreversibly damaged and desecrated our one and only precious planet. They have lined their pockets with the ashes of our collective future. They have built obscene amounts of wealth through war, genocide, and by poisoning our water, our air, and our land. The oil industry’s own scientists have understood nearly everything that we now know about climate change since 1979. They’ve been fully aware of the dire consequences of continuing to burn fossil fuels for over 30 years and instead of changing course, they decided that it was more important for a handful people to hoard hundreds of billions of dollars, than it was for humanity to have access to a habitable planet. I can imagine no worse crime than this. They must never feel comfortable celebrating these crimes again. They are not welcome in our museum, they must stop their plundering, and they must pay for the damage they have done.”

Extinction Rebellion claim that:

Climate change is already happening much faster than anticipated, with record temperatures and extreme weather across the globe. Drastic and immediate action is required if we are to escape the unimaginable consequences of runaway climate change.

As an educational institution the National Museum of Scotland holds a responsibility to tell the truth and to take affirmative action in this crisis.

At the same time as the Oil Club meets, BP is sponsoring the Portrait exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery and the Edinburgh Science Festival (‘Unstaining the Edinburgh Science Festival’)

A statement added:

The members of the Scottish Oil Club include companies and individuals that bear the greatest share of responsibility for our global predicament. The oil and gas industry is not an asset to Scotland; only kept afloat by £10.5 billion in subsidies every year, they profit at our expense. The companies present at this dinner, including Shell, Total and BP, are amongst the worst historic polluters in the world. The fossil fuel industry has known full well about the dangers of climate change for over 30 years, and far from taking action, has engaged in lobbying to protect its narrow self-interest and to prevent effective action on climate change. Even now, when climate science is clear about the  need for a rapid transition to a zero carbon economy, the sponsors of the Scottish Oil Club continue to spend billions of pounds developing new oil fields around the world, locking society into a deadly dependence on fossil fuels.

A new report out last year by experts from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester and Uppsala University in Sweden concluded that for Scotland to meet its global responsibilities it can only emit a total of 300 million tonnes more carbon dioxide – meaning it has to cut emissions by at least ten per cent every year starting now.

According to the pollution database maintained by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), 12 of the top 20 carbon polluters are linked to North Sea oil and gas. In 2016 they emitted a total of over six million tons of carbon dioxide. See details of the top 20 polluters on this map:


Comments (23)

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  1. Mark Bevis says:

    To add to the insult that is the oil industry, yesterday I got two news stories that are related:
    1) that US fracking companies want us to use even more plastic, by setting up ethanol cracking plants across their eastern US frack zones. Fracking has produced so much more ethane than they know what to do with, other than make more plastic!

    2) that micro-fibres are now found even in the depths of so called wild places like the Lake District.

    Capitalism and the “free market” has turned out to be one glorious death cult.

    Today we get George bemoaning the car, and showing stats on it’s death rate:

    World wide we kill 7 million with pollution already, but despite that a net 81 million are born each year. If it was 88 million, with us living in a hypothetical cleaner world, resource depletion would be even higher than it already is. With even more cars on the road and more mines for Lithium and Cobalt. A death cult indeed.

  2. Chris Connolly says:

    The internet (including “our” newspaper’s website) is so full of bile & fake news these days that it makes a welcome change to read something positive and to be able to say some kind words. Hats off to Extinction Rebellion for highlighting a dinner that I’m sure most of us never knew was taking place, and for making an excellent point in a non-violent way. Brilliant work, indeed.

  3. Jonny says:

    Well done to the protesters.
    The fossil fuel industries will be difficult to reign in.
    But some action towards influencing this is better than nowt.
    Not to sound defeatist, but unless the Nation takes the stand, the fossil fuel gits, will hire; Government, police , army, to ok, their policies…

  4. Gary McIntosh says:

    absolutely amazing work, well done all who participated & well done for this well written piece above. we need change & we need the regular people to realise this.

  5. SleepingDog says:

    There is a black hole in the (non)reporting of inside-corporation decision-making processes. Where are the “fuck the planet” direct quotes? Where are the asylum-seeking corporate turncoat whistleblowers? I hadn’t even heard of this annual tox-fest until a few hours ago. Where are the denunciatory terms that echo the escoriating pejoratives that nailed previous generations of nabobs and grand panjandrums to the wall in generations past?

    1. Robert says:

      Yep, you’re right, almost nobody had heard of the Scottish Oil Club dinner until this action happened. Yet another good reason for doing it!

  6. Derrick Lee says:

    For the sake of balance, I was at the dinner on Friday, and I can categorically say that there was not 300 protesters – lucky if it was a tenth of that. The emotive and false propaganda from Extinction rebellion is unhelpful as it does not allow people to look at the issue of climate change on a rational basis. The oil industry is a major employer in Scotland, and does not receive £10bn in subsidies – it actively contributes vast amounts of revenue to the state coffers through taxation. However, the renewables (such as windfarms) so beloved of the protesters revive vast subsidies as they are uneconomic and inefficient. Its also worth pointing out that the protestors were all wearing clothing/footwear made from plastics – ie oil – and seemed largely unaware of their hypocrisy…

    1. Thanks Derrick.

      Was it a nice dinner?

      What oil company do you work for?

      What IS the rational basis for climate breakdown?

    2. What company do you work for Derrick?

      1. You seem all of a sudden shy?

    3. Robert says:

      Derrick, there were 30 protestors inside the museum alone (I was one of them, but didn’t get arrested). The protestors outside were divided up in several groups, but just the ones picketing the tower entrance — which you must have seen if you were in the queue to get in — numbered 100 at least. So I think 300 in all is a pretty fair estimate. Too bad about the weather, but 300 people dancing in the rain is a pretty good turn-out.
      Your name is particularly well chosen for someone who works in the oil industry.

  7. William Ross says:


    Thanks for your very sensible comment. I have many times been at the Scottish Oil Club dinner but missed this year. I hope you enjoyed the rugby.

    The article is laughable nonsense. There has been a slight warming since industrialisation which is probably part caused by CO2 and partly other things. No renewable energy technology now existent can produce energy in an economic manner, and in fact most renewables are only workable at all because they can rely on gas -fired back-up. 85% of the World`s current energy use comes from fossil fuel and this is not going to change for decades. Check out the IEA reports.

    The idea that the oil industry is subsidised to the tune of £10 billion per year is ridiculous. Especially coming from purveyors of wind farms and solar power which are the original subsidy junkies.

    All futile


    1. Billy Foster says:

      What do you suggest William? Keep burning all known reserves? Are you suggesting the warming isn’t significant to the impact upon our climate or hasn’t happened?

    2. [just to be clear to other readers – climate change denialists are tolerated on these pages only as it serves to display their abject stupidity]

  8. William Ross says:

    Dear All

    The Editor may be an incredibly superior being but he does not challenge any statement made by either Derrick or myself. Funny that.

    Billy: I would suggest heavy funding of research into viable non fossil fuels because quite apart from CO2, fossil fuels when burnt emit harmful particulates and gases.
    I would also rely on new technology helping us to mitigate climate change. I accept that the climate is always changing and has in recent decades become warmer. It was warmer in the early Middle Ages and in Roman times., but there was no industrialisation.

    It is well accepted that apart from CO2/methane/other greenhouse gases, factors such as La Nina/El Nino, clouds, volcanos and sun activity can impact weather. There may be other factors. A little bit of balance and less hysteria?

    Our modern world needs cheap accessible energy. Right now only one industry can provide it.


    1. Billy Foster says:

      To William,

      “I would suggest heavy funding of research into viable non fossil fuels because quite apart from CO2, fossil fuels when burnt emit harmful particulates and gases.”

      Viable non-fossil fuels? Great. We should be looking at leaving the most possible known reserves in the ground so as to not destabilise our climate any further or our air quality for that matter. Renewable energy (and battery technology) is a good place to start, as is demand reduction. We could get rid of the effective ban on onshore wind turbines in England for a start. It’s not always reliable but it’s cheap. Also, who pays for the resulting health problems arising from the harmful particulates of burnt fossil fuels? If it’s not the fossil company, then it’s an indirect subsidy, no?

      “I would also rely on new technology helping us to mitigate climate change. I accept that the climate is always changing and has in recent decades become warmer. It was warmer in the early Middle Ages and in Roman times., but there was no industrialisation.”

      You need to accept the greenhouse effect and the human influence upon this. If not, and giving whataboutery stats, you are a denier. And that is shameful. We all agree on mitigation as being tool to help in years to come but it can’t be used as means to obstruct real emissions reductions, which it sometimes is. Particularly those in the Oil and Gas industry, understandably. Mitigation seems inadequate when we’re told to expect significantly longer heatwaves, rising sea levels and worse. How much would it cost to build a sea-wall for Bangladesh? And would it work? But is it even the best course of action?

      “It is well accepted that apart from CO2/methane/other greenhouse gases, factors such as La Nina/El Nino, clouds, volcanos and sun activity can impact weather. There may be other factors. A little bit of balance and less hysteria?”

      More whataboutery. There may be other factors, of course. We know, by virtue of science that it’s us humans releasing greenhouse gases that is doing the most to change our climate. You need to accept this scientific consensus. Krakatoa II permitting we can leave volcanoes for now. The hysteria is arising in what impact all this will have. I get why people may want to tone down the hysteria but we need action and sometimes hysteria feels all we have left. You accept climate change is not going to be good though?

  9. William Ross says:


    1. Presently some 85% of all global energy comes from fossil fuels ( coal, oil and gas). Most of the rest comes from nuclear and hydro ( neither very politically correct and hydro is not scalable). Around 1 to 2% comes from the type of renewables you favour, wind and solar. The problem is that these are not workable energy sources at present ( this may change) because of intermittency. You need hydrocarbon back up ( gas/diesel. The IEA estimate that in the 2030s the World will need twice the energy and the mix is likely to be similiar. There will be more people and they will be richer. You desperately desperately want to eliminate the use of fossil fuels ( and also not use nuclear) and you have no means to do it.

    2. You are utterly and totally convinced that unless there are dramatic cuts in the use of fossil fuels in ( I think ) 12 years then the World will be hit with escalating and uncontrolled calamities. Anybody who disagrees with you is called a “denier”. You are willing to commit the whole World to an effort much greater than the Second World War to eliminate the dreaded carbon. But in order to achieve that goal you must convince everyone that CO2 is the major causative driver of climate. The trouble is that our understanding of climate is very limited. You dismiss questioning about that as “whataboutery”. Well if you want to take me back to horses and candles I am going to make sure that the awful murderous ( for that is what it will be) journey is worthwhile. In my exchange with you I raised questions about other potential drivers of climate which you dismissed. Volcanos do not need to be Krakatoas to emit large volumes of gases. And rather than looking forward we can sensibly look back. Why did the World start heating up after the Little Ice Age when there was no industrialisation? How could the Romans grow out-door grapes in Hexham.?There was no rising CO2 then? Why does temperature not rise as CO2 rises? Are we really ready to throw away civilization because of your unproven theory?

    3. The article makes grave allegations against people in the oil industry because we are responsible to destroying the Earth. Billy, we have no alternative but to use oil and gas. There is nothing that we in the oil industry could do or would want to do to stop people using other energy sources. Be my guest. Just switch off your lights ( no parrafin lights mind..) The oil companies are not the polluters, people like me and you are. The alternative to a World of cheap abundant scalable energy is a REAL catastrophe ( not the fake kind you read of in Bella).

    4. To clarify, the oil companies pay a 40% tax on upsteam profits which is the highest level of tax paid by any industry. There is one minor subsidy on SPD but otherwise we are a free market business. Oil services companies are taxed at regular corporate rates. Renewables on the other hand are, as Derrick says, massively subsidized, inefficient and totally dependent on gas/diesel fired back-up.

    5. The allegation that oil industry people are trying to destroy the World when their product MAKES the World would be enraging if it came from a serious source. The 30 idiots who occupied the National Museum last Friday are not serious.


    1. What company do you work for William?

      1. You seem a all of a sudden shy?

  10. SleepingDog says:

    It sounds almost scientific when people talk of “efficiencies” and “inefficiencies” in energy production, as if these were a simply comparable percentage where one chosen (if often spurious) value can be presented as higher and therefore better than another. Yet…

    In terms of the marginal cost of oil extraction, the cost of producing one more barrel once your (extremely expensive) rigs, equipment, human resources and so on are in place, vary throughout the world. According to the Wall Street Journal, the UK was the least efficient (in terms of cost, which reflects energy input):
    Cost of producing a barrel of oil and gas

    The UK also leads the world in oil capital spending, according to their report, in production and administration/transportation costs, while paying the least green taxes. As the price of oil fluctuates, the entire cost of production approaches and recedes from the international commodity cost of brent crude, currently not that much above the marginal cost of production in the UK, although nothing a good war in Venezuela won’t push up again:

    And once you have your oil, it is transported, transformed, stored, packaged, marketed, adulterated and goodness knows what else, while profits are extracted on every transaction possible. When it finally arrives at the point it is to be turned into useful energy (burnt) most of which is lost as heat in a petrol engine even at maximum efficiency.

    Renewables, on the other hand, take 0% of future energy potential, and are cleverly constructed to be where the energy source is. It is not really sensible to say that an installation only takes x percent of the local wind, or y percent of the local tide energy, or only converts z to energy as a mark of efficiency. It is more sensible to look at energy input (by human intent) and marginal and total lifetime energy outputs. The historic problem in the UK and elsewhere is that national power grids are not oriented to renewable energy source, but towards increasingly obsolete fossil-fuel power stations.

    In short, efficiency is a spurious yet curiously common smear on renewable energy, yet is rationally a far more critical problem in fossil fuels, not least that these inefficiencies contribute to polluting waste products, as well as the sound and fury of snarling engines rattling throughout our environment.

  11. William Ross says:

    Mr Editor:

    Thanks for your interest in my employment situation. Like many of your commentators I use an alias. I work for a company providing oil services to the UK and international markets. I am certainly not unbiased but my arguments are much more important than who I actually am.

    Sleeping Dog:

    All the various transactions which are involved in the production of fossil fuels are necessarily captured in the final price. The point about green energy is that it is massively subsidised and could not function in principle without hydrocarbons. Try running your fridge or heater exclusively from a wind turbine.
    Intermitent electricity is worthless. There is no “natural” price for wind energy because no-one wants an intermitent supply of electricity.

    In fact Britain pays some the highest green taxes in the EU. Our costs of oil production may be high but that is a function of where our oil is. Dear old nature…..


    1. Hi William – you seem really proud of your industry so I’m surprised you don’t tell us what company you work for – I’m sure they have a proud and brave environmental record globally?

      PS I dont care who you are.

  12. William Ross says:


    Regarding your latest comment, I have to respond that given my position in my company I cannot make any kind of political comment, right or left, Yes or No, Brexit or Remain. This is why I have to use an alias.

    I work for no-one else other than my company.

    Nonetheless, I get your drift regarding comments. You will not hear from William Ross again.

    Over and out


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