Paul Barnes' speech from Just Stop Oil trial
Di, Oli, Paul F, Alan, Paul B, Harley and Jon gave testimonies at trial on Wednesday.
Judge Wilkinson responded with an extraordinary speech that’s quoted towards the end of this press release.
Here is the speech Paul Barnes’ gave.
I want you to all think of outer space.
Think about the planets, the moons and all the stars floating in a vacuum of nothingness.
All made from the same gasses and elements that make our planet possible too, but still… a lifeless void of nothing.
What WE have here on OUR planet, OUR earth, is a miracle… Life is a miracle.
The conditions for our very existence here on Earth have worked in perfect balance with all life on our planet for millions of years… and what we have is incredibly precious.
Devastatingly, species decline and extinction rates are accelerating and we are no exception.
We must protect what we have left.
From an early age, around 7 years old, I’ve been scared of dying.
I would routinely ask my parents about what happens when we die, what’s outside the universe, when did it start, how did it start?
At that time our atmosphere had a CO₂ concentration of 350 parts per million. My parents couldn’t offer me any answers to my questions, they comforted me, but ultimately couldn’t help me.
Now I’m a parent and I’ve two young children of my own. Leo is 4 and our eldest, Isaac is now 7 years old himself, and that CO₂ figure is now at 420 parts per million, the highest it’s been in modern human history.
According to Nasa the last time it was this high was around 400,000 years ago.
8 billion people have never faced this before. I’m now scared for Isaac & Leo’s lives and how the climate crisis will impact them.
At this time in history, I have the chance to save my children from the worst impacts of climate breakdown before it’s too late, and as a parent I will do all I can whilst I am able, to protect them.
Before I was a dad, I didn’t care for politics or had any idea there was a looming climate disaster unfolding…
But since becoming a parent my levels of awareness about everything in life has changed.
I feel like I’m more aware than I’ve ever been. Naturally, when we worry about things we’re told to research the facts, and this is what i’ve been doing since Isaac was born and even more so after hearing more about the climate emergency, as highlighted by Extinction Rebellion, the school strikers and many more, including those from the scientific community.
This came just after Leo was born in 2018, and to be honest knowing what we know now, we wouldn’t have had Leo and Isaac wouldn’t have a little brother.
But to think of our 4 year old bundle of joy not having ever existed is heartbreaking. We cherish every second we have with them both.
This is it, it’s all we get… one life….. ‘You only live once’ YOLO.
Make the most of every day we’re gifted.
Why would you not do anything?
Why would you not do everything you could to save what we have? .. what you have? It’s not too late to make a change, to use the power you have to make a difference.
In the plea hearing, you asked us not to labour on the science, but as mentioned that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for years and my conclusion is that we all need to understand just how serious this situation is.
After disinformation and denial campaigns that have lasted longer than I’ve been alive, doubt and confusion is the result, which was and is the exact intention of ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel companies.
There is a stack of evidence proving this… that for over 50 years, ExxonMobil in particular have known the catastrophic risks to life and actively tried to cover this up in a pursuit of profit over people.
I acknowledge that fossil fuels have helped us in many many ways and we should all be thankful for the privileged lives we all lead as a result of that.
But I also understand the reasons why, now, we must rapidly move away from them.
The bottom line is: If we don’t move in the time scale required, dictated to us by the laws of physics, presented to us by the scientists, the Intergovernmental panel on climate change, the UN, the international energy agency and the UK’s own committee on climate, then we may never be able to bring the global average temperature down to safe levels.
We risk multiple climate and ecological tipping points falling like dominos, and could be facing irreversible feedback loops out of human control, and face no way back.
Put bluntly, the effects of what we are currently risking will result in an unlivable world for many many species including humans and could lead to our extinction.
This decade is make or break, we either create the will to save ourselves or we don’t.
When we hear the warnings and know the risks and have learned from history how food and water scarcity result in conflict and war.
It’s easy to see how scenarios could play out in the near future as our global crisis worsens.
I worry about all the obvious things: flooding, extreme heat, wildfires, crop failure and food shortages leading to starvation and death.
But I also worry about public order and societal collapse.
Public order exists to prevent breach of the peace. it’s there to keep the public safe from harm.
It’s there to prevent chaos and danger appearing in our organised societies.
Who protects you when law and order breaks down? When most days are disrupted, not by protests, but by violence as people fight for food, water and medical supplies, and justice itself completely disappears.
All my life I believed the law and justice system protects people from danger.
I now know they are protecting the system.
The system that is directly damaging the people it was supposed to protect and is set to destroy the futures of billions.
I’m protecting myself and my family but also you, everyone in this room and their families….simply because our government, police and justice system is favouring business as usual at all costs, even if that cost is life itself.
And then I learn our own government is literally doing the ‘opposite of what is recommended to keep us all safe’, by issuing consents for 40 new fossil fuel projects…
That was then…now it’s looking like 130 plus..
We all have a choice, either ignore it, bury it deep down and accept that we have no way of changing anything and should then accept that our children face a dystopian hell of a future.
Or we try everything we can to fight to change the future.
Once all lawful means have been exhausted the only thing left is nonviolent direct action as a last and final option.
And due to the unique time scale constraints of this insane situation it is the only option left to those of us facing the truth head on, for those of us who aren’t willing to bury it deep and hide away from the reality.
We’re hoping to get guinea pigs soon.
Isaac and Leo love nature and these will be their first pets.
We’ll be in control of their living conditions and we’ll make sure we look after them well. It’s conceivable and highly likely that our new arrivals will live out their full happy lives with us.
We could choose to neglect our duty of care and subject the animals to certain factors like leaving them with no water & food, or we could leave them outside in the garden under various weather conditions and see what happens.
But we won’t because we’re in control of the situation.
I only hope that my children live a full happy life under the control of our leaders who have the power to decide our fate.
But just hoping isn’t enough.
Those already dead, displaced and decimated by climate change also hoped, but hoping didn’t change anything.
We must all act together for the sake of all those less fortunate than us, for those already in a dystopian hell.
We don’t know how lucky we are to have this small window of opportunity to do something.
But our luck will run out too, and this is the future for my children and yours,
Paul’s children’s names have been changed to protect their identity.