NUMEROUS BISHOPS are among the church leaders calling on Christians across the country to join them outside Parliament, demanding an end to the fossil fuel era.
The call comes ahead of The Big One – a climate protest, which is taking place from 21 to 24 April. The Big One is set to be the biggest UK climate protest yet, with more than 100,000 people gathering at Parliament to demand an end to the fossil fuel era. It is a protest designed for mass participation – with family-friendly activities planned across the long weekend.
Former Archbishop of York and current Chair of Christian Aid, John Sentamu said: “Climate change is the greatest insidious and brutal indiscriminate force of our time. The people suffering the most have done the least to cause it.That is why continuing to search for new sources of fossil fuels, despite explicit warnings against this from the International Energy Agency, is such an offence against humanity. If we want to limit climate suffering we have to leave fossil fuels in the ground. The Church has a proud history of standing up against injustice and once again we need to see Christians calling on the Government to take decisive actions.”
The Rt Rev Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford said: “Earth is the only planet, the only corner of this vast universe, where we are certain there is abundant life. Yet the once-rich tapestry of life on earth is now being degraded year by year because of the expansion and greed of a single species, ourselves. We have time, just, to respond to the climate crisis. This is the moment to send a clear message to the Government that they must go further and faster to tackle carbon pollution.”
The protest begins on Friday 21 April with a No Faith In Fossil Fuels Service. The service will take place at St John’s Church, Waterloo, with people gathering from 11am and the service starting at noon. After the service, the crowd will be walking together in pilgrimage towards Parliament, to join The Big One protest.
A number of Christian groups are taking part across the weekend, including Tearfund, Christian Aid, CAFOD, The Salvation Army, Young Christian Climate Network, Student Christian Movement, Operation Noah, Just Love, A Rocha UK, Engage Worship, Green Christian, All We Can and Christian Climate Action.
In 2021, the International Energy Agency said that exploitation and development of new oil and gas fields must stop if the world is to stay within safe limits of global heating. Since this stark warning, all major oil companies are continuing to explore for and develop new fossil fuel reserves.
Despite the advice of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the UK government has opened a new licensing round for companies to explore for oil and gas in the North Sea. Nearly 900 locations are being offered for exploration, with more than 100 licences set to be awarded. The UK government is also subsidising the fossil fuel industry. Since 2015, it has given £20 billion more in support to fossil fuel producers than to those of renewables.
Last year, a YouGov poll commissioned by CAFOD found that 59 per cent of Christians felt the government had done too little to tackle climate change over the last year. Only 16 per cent of Christians surveyed thought the government had done the right amount.
The Rt Rev Rob Saner-Haigh, Bishop of Penrith, said: “Our prayer is that thousands of people feel empowered and that their voices are heard as they come together as part of next month’s The Big One climate protest. As Christians we have a duty to look to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, seeking to sustain and renew the life of the earth, a duty reflected in one of our key themes in our ecumenical vision and strategy for Cumbria to ‘Tread Gently’. We wish all those well who make the trip to London, and encourage people to explore and use The Big One prayer collection.”
The Rt Rev Dr Eleanor Sanderson, Bishop of Hull, said: “The climate crisis disproportionally affects the most vulnerable in our world. I have seen first-hand the impact of climate change amongst our Pacific families and know their impassioned plea for the world leaders to see and respond with the urgency that they themselves are having to adapt. We must all take responsibility for the way our lifestyles contribute to this crisis and work together to create a more equitable and better reality for our global community today and for the generations yet to come. My hope and prayer is that a call to greater action and collaboration will be heard in this land too.”
The Rev Jo Rand, a Methodist Minister from Cumbria, said: “I’m really glad to see the number of mainstream charities and organisations that are taking part in the Big One. We must end our dependence on fossil fuels, and there’s strength in numbers as we show our leaders this isn’t a fringe issue but something that’s at the heart of working for a just world. Come and be a part of it.”
Patricia Pagulayan, who works for Tearfund in the Philippines, and will speak at the Big One, said: “The Philippines is already experiencing more frequent and more violent typhoons. Farmers are enduring one failed harvest after another because of unpredictable weather patterns. How much more destruction do we need to endure before the world wakes up to this climate emergency and offers real support for vulnerable communities? Protesters at the Big One in London are standing next to farmers and fisherfolk in the Philippines who experience the brunt of a climate crisis they did little to cause.”
Elizabeth Kitchenside, a Salvation Army First Year Cadet and a speaker at the No Faith In Fossil Fuels Service, said: “I’m joining The Big One because I believe that there is a better way and a brighter future possible for the planet, but this can only happen with radical change in society and policy. Micah 6:8 calls us to “Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” There is nothing just or merciful about the climate crisis. And so, I walk. For my future, for the planet, for justice and most importantly for my God.”
Christine Allen, CAFOD’s Director, said: “Pope Francis has called on every one of us to take collective responsibility to care for our common home. The Pope has said that means leaving behind the fossil fuels that are destroying our common home. We cannot continue to allow a situation where fossil fuel companies reap record-breaking profits while people in communities that have contributed least to the climate crisis pay the price.”
Fr Martin Newell, a Passionist Catholic priest, said: “This is such a critical time for life on our planet. The sad truth is that the window in which we are able to turn the climate crisis around is closing fast. This is a really difficult thing to comprehend. But I choose to believe in the Church. I believe that we will not let God’s creation be sullied by greed, by selfishness and all the horrible systematic sin we are seeing around us. I invite my fellow Christians to stand alongside me as we say no to fossil fuel exploration.”
* More information on the No Faith in Fossil Fuels service here.
* More information on The Big One from Christian Climate Action here.
* Source: Christian Climate Action