Fossil Fuels Over Freedom

Mike Hosey
6 min readFeb 24, 2021

The right to protest is enshrined in law in countries all over the world. Internationally, Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.” In the EU there is the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) which has its own version but includes much of the same as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Nationally, the UK Human Rights Act 1998 that was adopted in 2000 follows many of the rights that were set out in the ECHR but applied specifically to the UK. Across the pond in the USA, that right to protest is in the first amendment of their Constitution. In fact, if you go to any truly democratic country in the world, the freedom to protest is enshrined in law or it follows the internationally agreed declaration.

Keystone XL protests are one of the most well known fossil fuel protests in recent years (Source: Center for American Progress)

Of course there are countries that infringe on these rights and ban any protest. North Korea, China and Russia all have history of suppressing the right to protest, among many other basic human rights. Others are looking to suppress protests by targeting key individuals or making up charges to silence those that speak out. Take India for example — there are ongoing protests over recent laws passed to benefit large farming corporations and affect smaller country farmers. A number of activists have been jailed and beaten including a 22-year old who has been accused of sedition and conspiracy, simply for protesting.

The issues of protesting in authoritarian countries can and have been discussed at length by people much more qualified than myself and so I won’t go into too much detail on them. Instead, this blog is to look at how countries that pride themselves on freedom are infringing on those rights to suppress people’s ability to protest when it comes to the climate emergency and the continued building of fossil fuel infrastructure that takes us further away from the climate action required.

In recent years, whether it was the global school strikes or extinction rebellion protests, there have been an increasing number of protests against the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure regardless of the climate emergency we still seem to be moving towards despite the overwhelming amount of science showing what we face. Millions and millions of people have actively taken part in a collective call for action on the climate…

Mike Hosey

| Founder of | Masters in Sustainable Development | Interested in all things sustainable |