Christmas tree at Sheffield Cathedral

Photo credit: Christian Climate Action

SHEFFIELD ANGLICAN CATHEDRAL has removed from its annual Christmas Tree Festival a tree which was entered by a local Christian climate group as a protest against the Church of England’s continuing investment in fossil fuel companies.

Each year, local groups are invited to decorate Christmas trees within the Cathedral as a festive tradition. Sheffield Christian Climate Action decorated a tree with children’s craft versions of the Shell logo, and presented it as a mock gift from Shell.

A letter displayed alongside the tree thanked the Church of England for the support they have given to the oil and gas giant through continued investments in fossil fuels. Fake bank notes were hung on the tree, representing the record billions in profit Shell has made this year, despite the cost of living crisis.

The tree’s spoof sponsor’s message read ‘Thank you Church of England, for believing in us’ and thanked the Church for all its support of Shell, especially helping the company’s unlawful climate plans to appear credible. The Cathedral removed the Christmas tree later on in the day, so that it could not be seen by the public.

 Sam Wakeling, an organiser from Sheffield Christian Climate Action, said: “It’s understandable that the Cathedral is reluctant to publicly accept this gift and gratitude from Shell. We are told that the message may have been confusing, and we accept that some may be confused over what Shell has so much to thank the Church of England for.

“The Church of England has been public about its decision to keep investing in fossil fuel companies like Shell. This has helped protect Shell’s image as a legitimate partner in climate action, rather than helping expose them as a deceitful, violent and corrupt operation. This Christmas we wanted to help Shell say ‘thank you’ to the Church for the consistent help it has given.

“As a member of the Church of England, I think it’s beyond farcical to see the ways the Church bends over backwards to keep their seat at the table with these oil companies. Shell have demonstrated over and over that they cannot be trusted to be any kind of solution to the climate or cost of living crises that their own greed has caused. They are fighting only for their own profits and survival, and are willing to lie, greenwash and sacrifice many people on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

“We recall Jesus’ example, who made it central to his ministry to use parables to challenge the religious authorities of his day who were protecting their own power and getting in the way of God’s freedom for all people. We invite the Church of England National Investing Bodies to join in by divesting from all oil and gas immediately.”

* An in-depth assessment of Shell’s strategy by Global Climate Insights can be downloaded here.

* Source: Christian Climate Action