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Meet Ethical Unicorn, an Instagram activist making waves for climate change

Meet Ethical Unicorn, an Instagram activist making waves for climate change

Meet Ethical Unicorn, the Instagram activist making waves about climate change

Willow was a key player in large’s background Climate and social justice campaignsInforming a large number of climate-conscious individuals online has been a growing trend in recent years.  

She says she gravitates towards campaigns with “great organisers and a clear goal… you can see each step towards the thing being achieved and there’s more of a tangible sense of what success will look like.”  

Willow is participating in #StopCambo to end all oil and gas extraction in the North Sea, especially at Cambo.

Example of Oil drilling (Pixabay).

Siccar Point Energy, the owner of Cambo, claims that in its first phase, the oil field west Shetland will produce up to 170,000,000 barrels of oil.  

“This would create emissions equivalent to the annual carbon pollution of 18 coal-fired power stations,” said Willow. 

“Stop Cambo came together to campaign against Government approval,” Willow explained, as Cambo relies on government support before it can go ahead.  

She continued, “If Cambo isn’t approved, it will set a precedent to other North Sea oil and gas projects awaiting approval.” 

The UK government currently has another 18 new projectsThe pipeline has the potential to extract more oil than 1.7 billion barrels. 

Willow also feels a personal connection to Cambo. “Even though I’m not Scottish — I’m from Newcastle, just below the border — I am very invested in what happens in the North Sea. I don’t know if that’s just due to geographic proximity, or why I feel that kind of passion towards it.” 

She was one of the team that confronted the CEO of Shell about the Cambo oilfield at October’s TED Countdown conference in Edinburgh. She also organizes protests with campaignersBP or no BP?, who perform “rebellious theatrical activities” to bring attention to cultural spaces sponsored by giant oil companies.  

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Siccar Point announced that Shell had pulled out of Cambo’s venture. “pause while they evaluate next steps”.   

The Shell victory is “a major success,” said Willow. “Every large win is a combination of all these small wins” and a testament to the power of activism.   

However, the government is now less likely to act against the situation because of the pause. oil drilling, she warned: “It enables the government to not take a stand, which is very convenient for them.”

On January 12, Andrew Bowie, a Scottish Conservative MP for West Aberdeen, tweeted that it was “great to meet Graeme Sword of Siccar Point Energy regarding developing the Cambo oilfield and future investment in the North Sea – crucial to transition, energy security and the continued economic success of the North East of Scotland.” 

Willow countered: “Those resources could be put towards figuring out what a just transition looks like by working with effective communities and working with workers and unions. Instead, this guy’s going to meet Siccar Point Energy, which is disappointing but not surprising.” 

She added: “There are people who say we can’t change. Just because what we know is what we have lived in, doesn’t mean we can’t dream bigger, to not at least try is a crisis of imagination. Hope is an active thing.”   

However, her generation is increasingly finding hope to be a scarce commodity. In an international surveyAccording to the BBC in September, three-quarters (75%) of young people thought the future was terrifying. It’s a fear that Willow empathises with. 

“Eco-anxiety and climate grief are very real emotions,” Willow said. “One might be faced with information that can feel so overwhelming, it can be easier to pretend it’s not happening.”  

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Activits of the climate change action group Extinction Rebellion block the Paris Grand Boulevard during a demonstration in Paris, on April 16 2022.

But she believes that though these emotions are “valid” it is important to “redirect that energy into action.”   

“No change is won overnight. We live in a world where large players like to tell us we’re powerless. But any human right has been won through people power,” said Willow.

Women’s right to vote, Gandhi’s salt march, Martin Luther King’s march on Washington and the right to have a weekendShe pointed out that all of these campaigns had changed the course history.

“It wasn’t like it was nothing, nothing, nothing, and now women can vote,” said Willow. “You push political will by changing public opinion as we’ve seen in government U-turns in recent years, [such as] the school meals with Marcus Rashford.”

What are the smallest steps anyone can take to help climate activism? For those who want change in their daily lives, Willow suggests changing small things that have a large effect, such as your “bank account, energy provider and pension.” 

Finding more ethical and environmental alternatives to high street providers may be a “one-off faff, but they have long-term impact [because] you’re taking your money out of destructive industries,” she said.  

As for the climate crisis, Willow points out that, “for every person locking themselves onto the road or climbing a building or doing these grandiose things, there are so many roles going on behind the scenes including people doing social media, getting banners printed and giving teas and coffees to the activists. There are so many different roles that we need.” 

Willow also suggests participating in campaigns like #StopCambo. “Everyone is welcome to join,” she said.  

Willow is optimistic about the possibilities, provided that everyone does their part. “We have the examples, we have the knowledge, we have the wisdom, we just need the political will to listen.”    

Get involved in #StopCambo and follow Francesca Willow / Ethical Unicorn’s journey at @EthicalUnicorn.

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