Film and Press Release: Divest Exxon Day

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BBC South Today filmed the whole day and they have kindly let us have their film.

Grandparents for a Safe Earth also made this video.

PRESS RELEASE 1st JUNE

FIRST EVER CLIMATE CHANGE DEMO OUTSIDE EXXONMOBIL FAWLEY REFINERY CALLS ON CHURCH TO DIVEST FROM FOSSIL FUELS

Yesterday, the day of ExxonMobil’s AGM, a coalition of faith and non-faith groups staged events to call for the Church of England to divest from the company.

Renewables are foreverEarly in the morning, demonstrators gathered outside Fawley refinery, handing leaflets to staff as they entered. Then at 4pm, faith and non-faith groups held a vigil outside Salisbury Cathedral before delivering a letter into the office of the Bishop of Salisbury, the lead bishop for Environmental Affairs in the Church of England, requesting that the Church divests from ExxonMobil.

Hours before the passing of a resolution on climate change at ExxonMobil’s AGM in Houston –  put forward by a group of institutional investors, including the Church of England – campaigners called on the Church to sell its shares in the company whatever the outcome of the vote.

Time to Cycle lead a bike ride through the New Forest between the two locations.

Dave and barrieRuth Jarman, a member of the Church of England said, ‘When the Church should be showing moral leadership to protect the millions of lives devastated every year by climate change, they’re being taken for a ride by the very company causing the problem. By continuing to hope that ExxonMobil is going to change its stripes, the Church of England is buying cover for one of the most notorious companies blocking action on climate change, including funding climate denying politicians and fake science.

‘The Church of England needs to wake up, follow the example of hundreds of other faith leaders around the world and cut its ties with these companies. The church should be filling the moral void created by these companies, not falling into it.’

Sigurd Reimers, of Grandparents for a Safe Earth, said, ‘Shareholder engagement is often an excellent way to make a company more ethical. But it takes time. And we don’t have time. This resolution is a ‘step zero’ in the task of fixing ExxonMobil.  It is simply asking ExxonMobil to disclose the effect of climate change on its business when we should be asking the exact opposite – for it to disclose the effect of its business on climate change.  And to act on that information.’  

IMG_6725Alison Craig, of the Salisbury Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, said, ‘The passing of the resolution at the AGM is a dangerous distraction.  It merely asks the company to disclose financial figures that have nothing whatsoever to do with cleaning-up their business. In the meantime, the Church will continue to make money out of causing climate change. This is wrong. The Church of England needs to get out of oil and gas, starting with ExxonMobil.’

Notes to editors

  1.    Fawley is the only ExxonMobil refinery in the UK, and is the largest and most complex in Europe.
  2.    The flyer that was handed to staff explaining the unethical behaviour of ExxonMobil is here.
  3.    The AGM resolution by a group of investors, including the Church of England, called for ExxonMobil to disclose the extent to which global action to tackle climate change will negatively impact the company’s future earnings. The Resolution was passed by 62.3% of the vote despite strong opposition from the ExxonMobil Board.
  4.    The strategy of ‘engagement’ by the Church with fossil fuel companies does not go far enough for divestment campaigners. For example a letter to the Church Times by 3 bishops and 27 other clergy on 5/5/17 called for the church pensions board to divest from fossil fuels.
  5.    In 2015 the Church moved to divest £12m from tar sands oil and thermal coal from its £9bn fund but has resisted calls for all out fossil fuel divestment. Church Commissioners have declined to disclose the sum invested in ExxonMobil, thought to be millions: their Annual Report (page 78) discloses the identity of their top 20 holdings only.
  6.    On 15th May 2017 The Guardian reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, may have played a crucial role in the decision by the investment company BMO Global Asset Management, to dump £20m of shares in firms such as BHP Billiton, the Anglo-Australian mining giant, because of climate change. The Archbishop is President of BMO’s responsible investment committee.
  7.    More information on the Divest ExxonMobil Day can be found at https://christianclimateaction.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/divest-ExxonMobil-day-join-us/
  8.    The campaigners’ coalition includes 350.org, Christian Climate Action, Fossil Free UK,  Grandparents for a Safe Earth, Salisbury Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, Salisbury Greenpeace, Time to Cycle.
  9.    There is a petition to register support for the Church of England to divest from fossil fuels here.

10.The fossil fuel divestment movement saw its beginnings in North America, Europe and Australia and has since become the fastest growing divestment movement in history.  Global commitments to divest have already reached 710 institutions across 76 countries, representing well over US$5.5 trillion in assets under management.

ENDS

BBC South Today filmed the whole day and they have kindly let us have their film.

And Exxon very kindly put up a fence for our banner:

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Our Wedding Album

Church of England breaks its Engagement with Fossil Fuels at staged wedding

Here are some of our photos from our Break this Engagement sketch performed on the steps of Church House to protest the Church of England’s continued engagement with fossil fuel companies when they should be divesting.

These are the photographs taken by a professional photographer.  Please credit Imogen Anderson or instagram @street.furniture.

And this is a slideshow – not as good as Imogen’s photos – but they tells the story!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Call Off This Engagement!

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Church divestment vigil and sketch.
You are cordially invited to the wedding of the Bride of Christ (the Church) to Mr Fossil
on
Monday 8th May 12 noon
at
Dean’s Yard, Great Smith St, Westminster, London SW1P 3NZ
The Church of England claims to be a responsible investors, and has a strong moral voice. It claims to understand the threat and urgency of climate change, yet instead of divesting from the biggest fossil fuel companies, they continue to engage.
What is it the Church sees in fossil fuels? Is it love?
We do hope you can join us to celebrate this match made in heaven. Or is it hell?
I must warn you, there is a possibility that the wedding might not go through. There may be an objection. It could be that Marion Haste decides to call off her engagement with Mr Fossil….
Put the date in your diary, dig out your best wedding hat and join us to find out!
Photo thanks to Antonio Delgado on Flickr

Swapping Gloss for Whitewash

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Vigil held by CCA and friends outside the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy in November 2016 to mark one year since the Paris Climate Accord.

In 2015, on the first day of the Paris Climate Summit, members of Christian Climate Action daubed the Department of Energy and Climate Change with whitewash, painting on it the new title ‘Department for Extreme Climate Change’. We were charged with criminal damage, convicted and fined. Thank you to our supporters for your support throughout this, on the day of trial and for help with the fines. One year later in 2016 we whitewashed the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (since DECC is dissolved) and delivered 20kg of melting ice to their lobby while a vigil took place (holding a banner saying ‘Happy Birthday Paris, Our condolences to the Arctic’). We were not arrested, however the ice was not returned to us. What follows is a reflection on the motivation for these acts from one member of Christian Climate Action.

There is a joke that goes: ‘What can think the unthinkable?’ The answer is: ‘An itheberg!’.

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I like this joke as it deftly reminds us that the sinking of the Titanic was unthinkable. The predicament we find ourselves in has been likened to the sinking of the Titanic as we can’t seem to believe our great technical masterpiece of a civilization is vulnerable to the restraints of reality and thus we are unable to come to terms with the prognosis for our great global project.

When I worked in a hospital as a Radiotherapy Physicist, sometimes I would hear of the difficult role of doctors when speaking to cancer patients of their condition. Therapy can often effectively contribute to a positive outcome in cancer treatment but sometimes it cannot.

Sometimes a doctor will be tempted to mislead a patient as to the effectiveness of a treatment or the likely prognosis of their condition. Doctors need to contend with their own need to feel powerful but also patients or their families want their doctors to lie to them due to being unable or unwilling to accept their loss and powerlessness. Denial is common when hearing bad news. Grieving is associated with shock/denial, anger, bargaining, guilt/depression and acceptance (also sometimes called hope). We can often see these stages played out in our loved ones dealing with loss, even if we cannot see it in ourselves.

Nobody envies a doctor’s role in these difficult conversations. However,doctors are compensated, trained, resourced and esteemed due to this role we require of them. A doctor who tells you what you want to hear is negligent. A doctor who misleads you for personal gain or to advance the agenda of their sponsors would likely be struck off and possibly arrested.

This all comes to mind when it comes to painting whitewash on government departments with responsibilities for climate change.

We are in a desperate situation. The extent to which we have destabilized the climate will have catastrophic consequences. This is a result of our approach to life, not just how we choose to fuel our lives, but how we see the world and choose to interact with it. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are all stages we need to contend with while grieving this. This is inevitable and unavoidable and should be treated compassionately. However some are willing to exploit others in their grieving or encourage grievers to remain in the stage they are in. Denial serves the status quo, anger the activism industry, bargaining the ethical consumption industry and depression the self care industry. Acceptance seems to be good business for nobody but may allow us to be of some use.

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Since it is not climate change we are grieving but imminent, catastrophic, multivariate systemic collapse, we are grieving more than one thing at once and we grieve different stages concurrently (e.g. we might be in denial over the failure of the market, anger over the failure of democracy, as we bargain using low energy light-bulbs to offset our guilt over what we have done to our children but boasting about our acceptance of the reality of climate change). These stages of grief interfere with each other and it is all very complicated. None of us have made it to the other side but it is essential that we find some way of speaking honestly of our situation if we are ever going to make progress. We do not seem to be willing to speak honestly about what is going on. Even those of us who have a prophetic obligation find it difficult to discuss these things.

It should not surprise us then that we do not have a government who is willing to speak honestly about our condition or our likely prognosis. What is true of our government is also true of our church leadership (how many marriage courses warn couples that there may be no food for their impending children). It is also true of the many movements who would assure us we have decades to convince and soften the hearts of our ignorant, careless leaders with our marches, petitions and internet memes while promising we can relive the gay days of the British Empire. It is not clear how far any of us would get in any area of life if we were not willing to lie about this, affirming the ignorance and prejudice of our supporters. We are a people who are desperate to be lied to. We cannot accept how far we have gone astray from the way of life. We cannot accept that we are powerless to turn our systems, our institutions or even our own lives around.

Nevertheless, we often tell ourselves that we can turn around centuries of habitual violence and decades of climatic abuse in a time frame of years. Some would even tell us that the future technological utopia, made of materials and with labour from people kept out of sight out of mind, will somehow mark a break from our pattern so far. We are happy to be told that we can maintain lifestyles entirely dependent upon global injustice, decimation and blood-letting and do so with clean hands, even clean green hands. We speak of justice when we mean ‘just us’ and expect heaven on earth to result. We can barely speak of climate change – but climate change is just the strange fruit of a tree we will not even look at. To be radical is to look to the roots. We often call ourselves radical Christians but we are far from it.

We are a society in trouble. It is unfair to blame any one person or section of society for this. It is also counterproductive. Nevertheless we live in some sort of democracy. We have a government which represents us. Like the doctors described above, we appoint Government ministers and civil servants to act with integrity, making difficult decisions and giving us bad news.

Instead we have deception hidden behind respectable facades. In 2015 this government took us to the Paris Climate Summit claiming global leadership while actively promoting climate wrecking policies. This year the Department for Energy and Climate Change no longer exists. Now responsibilities for climate change belong to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. This alone should intimate the priority climate change has for this government.

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Melting ice overlooked by staff at DBEIS.  As seen from exterior.

At a symbolic level, our nation’s disregard for the climate crisis was well served by the offices of DECC with their respectable, sturdy facade hiding corruption and deception. Now the Portland stone of DECC has been replaced by BEIS’s glass frontage. This new facade is as transparent as the change of name but the deception continues within. Somehow we are told that this government is taking climate change seriously.

In this light the words of Ezekiel chapter 13 and Matthew 23 seem very appropriate. The painting of whitewash a symbolic correction to the these duplicitous facades.

Some green Christians took issue with our criminal damage. It was certainly criminal as we were arrested and then almost arrested the second time.

I take issue with the notion we damaged DECC or BEIS. A building, certainly a government building, serves at least two purposes. One is practical – it shelters its staff from the weather and allows them sockets to plug their photocopiers and computers into. The second is one of propaganda, projecting a narrative of legitimate power and respectability. We did no damage to the buildings of DECC or BEIS in the first sense as I reminded the magistrate at our trial – removing our work was entirely optional as it did not hinder the work of the department at all. In the second sense, damaging their ability to appear respectable and legitimate was entirely our intention and our prophetic obligation.

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5 members of CCA painting the portland stone exterior of DECC in Nov 2015 on the first day of the Paris Climate Summit.
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3 members of CCA painting the glass exterior of DBEIS while donating ice the the lobby.

Challenging the narratives of the powerful is the task of every Christian. As is advancing the narrative of the vulnerable God we serve. This empire we have built for ourselves as an act of worship will fall. It will be for the best that it falls but it will not fall gracefully. Like all of us, coming to terms with death will not come easily for it. We who have come to rely on the idols of our age will suffer most when they fail us – an

allotment does not hasten the end of the supermarkets but will soften the blow when they disappear. We are called to flee from this evil age. We are reminded also that we are under grace and not judgement.

As dis-empowering as grace is, it also will sustain us as we look honestly into our position.

Not all are called to be an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher. Clearly following the arrestable Christ does not mean arrest for everybody, just as following the executed Christ has only meant execution for some.

So, while we invite you to join us in our various acts of holy obedience/civil disobedience, we urge you to remember that we are one Church, have one God and have one mission: to offer hospitality to the Kingdom of Heaven, so as to witness to the transformation of this earth into the new earth – into the likeness of Christ – by the power of God, whose power appears weak rather than the horrific power of men.

– The End –

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Happy Birthday Paris Talks Vigil

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To celebrate the first anniversary of the Paris talks, and the recent ratification of the Paris agreement by the UK Government, Christian Climate Action are holding a vigil to protest the lack of any meaningful action in response to the agreement, and to pray that our country will take the action required.

Monday 28th November, 9.30am

1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET

Please join us!

The Liturgy we will be praying is here.

PRESS RELEASE: Christians Found Guilty for Climate Protest

Monday 31st May 2016

The five members of Christian Climate Action outside court after the verdict

Five Christians have been found guilty today of causing criminal damage when they whitewashed the walls of the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC). On the first day of the Paris climate conference in November of last year, the members of Christian Climate Action exposed the department’s hypocrisy by whitewashing its walls and rebranding it the ‘Department for Extreme Climate Change’ in black paint.

Their case was held in front of a crowded public gallery as around 25 supporters of action against climate change gathered at Hammersmith Magistrates Court to pray and vigil throughout the day. The defendants, who represented themselves, did not dispute their presence at the scene or the actions attributed to them, but argued that they had a ‘lawful excuse’ under section 5 of the Criminal Damage Act.

Speaking after the verdict, Father Martin Newell said:

‘Pope Francis has called on Christians to go further in opposing climate change and we have tried to answer that call in faithfulness to Jesus who was also tried and found guilty by a court.

‘As a Catholic I believe in the power of symbols and symbolic actions and our actions symbolically highlighted that this department is whitewashing the truth of what’s happening. This is urgent – climate change is already happening and people are already dying.’

Phil Kingston, 80, and the oldest member of the group, said:

‘I was speaking on behalf of my grandchildren and the uncertain future they face. Preventing unnecessary deaths is an integral part of our humanity. When we do what we believe is right, good will come. I have regularly questioned what to do when democratic processes yielded no progress and warnings were ignored and have concluded that, as with other successful protest movements, non-violent direct action is the answer.’

Ruth Jarman, 53, said:

‘We do not agree with today’s judgement. The point of the law is to maintain justice, stability and order. Climate change threatens all these things so fundamentally that the law should be used to defend those who are trying to stop climate change, not those who are creating it. We think DECC should have been in the dock, not us. The department speaks fine words, but its actions scupper any possibility of sufficient global action on climate change.’

Helen Whitall, 32, said:

‘What we did was reasonable under the circumstance. As a Christian I feel that whilst it is essential to always act out of love for God and others, I have a responsibility to speak out against injustice to protect all that God loves, human and non-human, which may at times involve non-violent direct action in the tradition of Christ and the prophets where I feel justice and truth are being silenced.’

Westley Ingram, 39, said:

‘The climate talks in Paris were akin to leaders gathered in a burning house agreeing to only buy flame retardant furniture in the future. I do not believe we have damaged DECC’s building, because we have not affected its utility; if we have done anything, it is to damage the propaganda value of the building by exposing it for what it really is.’

The group has received support from a number of theologians. Michael Northcott, Professor of Ethics at the University of Edinburgh, said,

‘Without such acts in the history of the United Kingdom, the vote would not have been conferred on non-land owning citizens, nor on women, and we would not have ended slavery, or forced child labour in our factories. Civil disobedience is essential to democracy provided it harms no one. The actions of these protestors were a non-violent and peaceable way to expose the hypocrisy of current UK government energy policies. The UK has the potential still to lead the world towards the new sustainable energy economy that the climate crisis calls for and this type of action is essential to the democratic process in the UK.’

The five were ordered to pay £340 each.

ENDS

 

Editors Notes:

  1. More information, including statements of support and photographs, can be found on our website: www.christianclimateaction.wordpress.com
  2. Ruth’s statement explaining her actions in court is here:  https://christianclimateaction.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/ruths-defence-statement-2/
  3. A video of our action: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/climate-change-activists-vandalise-government-building-ahead-of-paris-climate-talks-a6754496.html
  4. The letter handed into DECC at the time of the action: https://christianclimateaction.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/dear-amber-the-letter-we-handed-in-to-decc-to-explain-our-re-branding-exercise/

 

How you can support CCA

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On 31st May five members of CCA are standing trial for rebranding the Department of Energy and Climate Change(DECC) the ‘Department for Extreme Climate Change’, in an attempt to expose the fact that DECC’s actions on climate change do not match up to its fine words (read more about what we did here). There are many ways you can support us even if you have not been able to take part in direct action with us yourself-

  1. Make a noise about what the government is doing – our whitewashing action was only small, and the government is still heading fast in the wrong direction on climate change, supporting fossil fuels and cutting support for renewables, efficiency and the green economy. We did what we did to expose the truth behind the DECC’s claims on climate. But if we want to really make a difference, we need as many people as possible to speak up about it and not let it continue uncontested. Write to your MP (template email here), the DECC (template letter here), and tell others what’s happening.
  2. Pray the dangerous prayers – pray for us standing trial on 31st May. Pray the Spirit will be evident in us, and will speak the truth through us. Pray for courage. Pray for clarity. Pray God will be made known more fully. Pray for us as we decide where to go from here. But – we also challenge you to pray earnestly about your own response to climate change; where is God wanting you to get involved? Where might Christ be calling you? Are you prepared to make sacrifices if necessary? What price would you be willing to pay to truly follow Him? Pray the dangerous prayers bravely and honestly, and be open to seeing them answered.
  3. Give to our solidarity crowdfunder – if you are behind what we did and want to stand alongside us as we face court costs and possible fines for exposing the deadly truth behind the government’s climate whitewash, even if you were unable to take part yourself you can join with us in paying the court costs by donating to our crowdfunder here.
  4. Join the vigil outside court on 31st May – we are on trial on 31st May, and would love as many people as possible to come along and support us. We will be holding a prayer vigil outside court (full details here), either just drop in to show your support or come for the day.
  5. Join CCAget in touch if you think you’d like to be involved in future

Letter to the Editor – Church Times 26th May 2017

From Mr Phil Kingston

Sir, — A minor misprint in the cap­tion to Christian Climate Action’s protest against the Church of Eng­land’s engagement with the fossil-fuel industry (News, 12 May) states that we think that there is not enough time to prevent runaway climate change, implying that there is nothing that can be done.

What we said in our statement was that there was not enough time for engagement (that is, trying to influence the fossil-fuel industry by holding shares in it) to prevent run­away climate change.

The work of Carbon Brief shows that the world has just four years of current fossil-fuel use before we ex­­ceed the carbon budget required for the Paris target of 1.5°, and uncon­trollable temperature-escalation becomes more likely. There is sim­ply not time for the slow and care­fully managed transition for which engagement aims.

Although there are ample reasons to give up on this particular planet, we pray that God has not, and choose to have a hopeful view of the future, which requires such a rapid transition away from fossil fuels that disinvestment and non-violent resistance must play a part.

Even if there is no chance of averting climate chaos, we do not believe it to be within the mission of the Church to profit from the de­­mise of civilised life on earth. Either way, it seems to us that the only moral position for the Church is an immediate commitment to disinvesting from all fossil fuels, and to investing, instead, in clean energy and other sustainable solutions.

PHIL KINGSTON

Christian Climate Action

53 Littleton Court, Blakeney Road

Patchway BS34 5RT

DIVEST EXXON DAY

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There are now photos, video and a press release about this event.

Our hearts and prayers go out to all those affected by the atrocity in Manchester this week.  Climate change can only exacerbate some of the main causes of terrorism – one response to Monday night is to continue to fight for a stable climate.  

A coalition* of faith and non-faith groups are joining together to call for the Church of England to divest from ExxonMobil on Wed 31st May.

Join us for a pick-and-mix day of banner holding, leafleting, cycling and contemplation!  There are three activities:

  1. Demo outside Exxon’s Fawley refinery. Meet at 06:00 for 06:30 start in the field next to Fawley Church SO45 1SQ. Has to be this early to engage with staff/contractors/media. Only an hour or so. Plenty of public parking on Church Lane between the village and the refinery (Map of Fawley).  The demo (and the parking) will comply with legitimate public protest and police requirements.

ttc2. Time to Cycle bike ride between the two venues (optional).  Meet in the field next to Fawley Church SO45 1SQ. Leaving at 9.30am. Please alert all keen cyclists in your area! Cycling route maps will be organised. We are hoping to have a cycling support vehicle available. Trains home accessible from Salisbury Railway Station.

Salisbury_Cathedral_from_the_Bishop_Grounds_c.18253. Divest Exxon Vigil outside Salisbury Cathedral. Meet at 4pm outside the High Street (north) entrance to the Cathedral Close. Vigil for all faiths and none, probably one hour. A letter requesting that the Church of England divests from ExxonMobil will be handed to the office of the Bishop of Salisbury, the lead bishop for Environmental Affairs in the Church of England.

Why Exxon?

In our opinion Exxon is an unethical company. There is evidence they covered up their early knowledge of climate change and they are currently under investigation by the Attorney Generals of several US states. There is evidence they have been funding climate denial organisations for decades.  They are giving every indication they intend to continue extracting fossil fuels beyond the earth’s internationally agreed safety limit of max 2 degrees warming.

Why Fawley?

Fawley is the only ExxonMobil refinery in the UK, and is the largest and most complex in Europe.

Why 31st May?

We picked Wed 31st May, because this is the date of the ExxonMobil AGM in Houston, USA. At this AGM, a coalition of investors, including the Church of England, will be pressing the company to disclose the extent to which global action to tackle climate change will negatively impact the company’s future earnings.

Shareholder engagement is often an excellent way to make a company more ethical.  But it takes time.  And we don’t have time.  And this resolution is a ‘step zero’ in the task of fixing Exxon.  It is simply asking Exxon to disclose the effect of climate change on its business when we should be asking the exact opposite – for it to disclose the effect of its business on climate change.  And to act on that information.  The current resolution, with its focus on finance and taking the most minor of steps possible in this race against time is participating in the lie that the science going on in our atmosphere will wait around until we can be bothered to fix it. In these post-truth times, we think that the Church needs to stand up for truth and beware of being used to add colour and shine to the image of these companies whose business plans are set to destroy Earth’s ability to sustain life as we know it. The resolution is a distraction. The Church of England needs to get out of oil and gas, starting with Exxon.  If the motion is defeated, they must divest from Exxon.  If the motion goes through, they must divest from Exxon.

Why the Church of England?

The Church of England says it is an ethical investor, and has divested from some coal and tar sands.  But it still has millions invested in Exxon.

The vigil will express support for a recent divestment decision that may have been influenced by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the letter to the Church Times by 3 bishops and 27 other clergy on 5/5/17 on why the church pensions board should divest from fossil fuels


If you agree that good people’s money should not be invested in a bad company, please join us for one of, or all of our Divest Exxon Day!  Hoping to see you there.  This is, politically, a cross-party event. Like-minded groups welcome. Musicians welcome. Coffee, tea, butties and cake especially welcome!

Please drum up as much support for this as you can. We want – we need – divestment. 

Whether or not you make it, if you would like to register your support for the Church of England to divest from fossil fuels, there is a petition here.

For more information, email christianclimateaction@gmail.com .

*The coalition includes 350.orgChristian Climate Action, Fossil Free UK,  Grandparents for a Safe Earth, Salisbury Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, Salisbury GreenpeaceTime to Cycle, Wessex Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement.

PRESS RELEASE: Church of England breaks its Engagement with Fossil Fuels at Staged Wedding

IMG_66399th May 2017

Church of England breaks its Engagement with Fossil Fuels at Staged Wedding

On Monday 8th May, Christian Climate Action staged a wedding between the Church of England and fossil fuels to protest the Church’s continued investment in the industry. The sketch and short prayer vigil took place on the steps of Church House, Dean’s Yard, Westminster.

The event, which was part of the Global Divestment Mobilisation, aimed to encourage the Church of England to show moral leadership and divest from the fossil fuel industry. Currently the Church is pursuing a policy of engagement – holding shares in the industry and using shareholder status to try to change the industry’s behaviour. Christian Climate Action believes that engagement cannot work because there is not enough time for it to prevent runaway climate change having a devastating impact on people and God’s creation. They also do not think it is right for the Church to profit from an industry that is making money from wrecking the earth’s climate.

In the sketch, where the Bride of Christ, representing the Church of England, was to be given in marriage to the fossil fuel industry, there was an objection from Jesus Christ, who persuaded the bride to break her engagement with fossil fuels and seek forgiveness.

After the play the guests heard about the impact of coal mining and climate change in Colombia and Uganda before joining in a short prayer vigil.

Diana Salazar, of Colombia Solidarity Campaign, said, ‘the Church of England invests in BHP Billiton and Anglo American, two of the biggest mining companies in the world, and both with significant coal mining operations. They are among the owners of the Cerrejon opencast coal mine in Colombia, which has a history of forced evictions of farming communities and destruction of rural livelihoods. The mine has a massive impact on water in an arid region, and when mine management are challenged about this they try to evade responsibility by blaming water shortages on climate change. Climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, primarily coal, so this is rather an ironic excuse for a coal company to use.’

Jim Green talked about his recent visit to rural Uganda with a Christian Development Agency. ‘Every community we visited were talking about the effect of climate change. For some it meant having only one meal a day, or, in some cases, one meal every two days.’

The Church Commissioners were ‘invited’ to the ‘wedding’ but were unable to attend.  Before leaving, Holly Petersen, dressed as the Bride of Christ, handed in some chocolate hearts and a card to the Church Commissioners’ Communications Officer, asking them to conclude the Church’s engagement with fossil fuels.

Caroline Harmon of Christian Climate Action said:

The Church of England claims to be a responsible investor, and has a strong moral voice. It claims to understand the threat and urgency of climate change, yet instead of divesting from the biggest fossil fuel companies, they continue to engage. As part of the Global Divestment Mobilisation we invited the Church Commissioners to the wedding of the Church and fossil fuels, where we highlighted the impacts of climate change and prayed for more urgent action.’

ENDS

Notes for editors:

  1. Global Divestment Mobilisation is a week of action around the globe to encourage divestment from the fossil fuel industry: https://globaldivestmentmobilisation.org/
  2. Christian Climate Action is a community of Christians supporting each other in following Jesus Christ in the face of imminent and catastrophic anthropogenic climate change, in acts of non-violent direct action. We are based in the UK. https://christianclimateaction.wordpress.com
  3. The Order of Service for the event, including the vigil, can be found here
  4. The full script for the sketch can be found here.
  5. More photos can be found here and here.
  6. The group has a facebook page.
  7. We hope to have a video of the event here soon.