PRESS RELEASE: Call for ‘cloud of witnesses’ to support Christian climate protesters on trial for whitewashing the walls of the Department for Energy and Climate Change

 

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Contact: Ruth Jarman 07970 907784 / 01252 849904

 

Supporters of action against climate change are invited to gather in front of Hammersmith Magistrates Court at 9am on Tuesday 31st May to pray and vigil as five Christian climate activists go on trial for whitewashing 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, five members of Christian Climate Action exposed the hypocrisy of the Department of Energy and Climate Change by whitewashing its walls, and rebranded it the Department for Extreme Climate Change in black paint.  The protesters were arrested and charged with criminal damage.

 

One of the five, Westley Ingram, said,

 

‘We stand everyday before a Judge who holds us to account.  This day in court must be considered in this light.  There are two judges, two laws and two authorities ruling on our actions and one must be subservient to the other.  The conduct of this government through DECC is on trial today as well ourselves.  We encourage Christians to consider whether civil disobedience may be considered holy obedience when the law of the land is in conflict with the law of love as exemplified by Jesus Christ.’

 

The group has received support from a number of theologians.  The scholar, writer and broadcaster, Professor Alastair McIntosh said,

 

‘Christian Climate Action is a howl of prophetic protest against the kings of our time, who have turned their backs on caring for the Creation, and imagine they can do so with spiritual impunity.’

 

Professor Tim Gorringe said,

 

Wendell Berry speaks of organized Christianity as a “respecter and comforter of profitable iniquities”. This includes war, in all its forms, which is blessed and hallowed in every Cathedral and in most parish churches, and support for an economic system which threatens to make human life on earth impossible. Both in contradiction of every single line of the Messianic Writings. To be Church, which is disciples of Jesus of Nazareth, is to protest these blasphemies and to call for a politics and an economy which is answerable to the God of Life.’

 

ENDS

 

Contact: Ruth Jarman 07970 907784 / 01252 849904

 

Notes:

  1. More information, including statements of support and photographs can be found on our web site: www.christianclimateaction.wordpress.com
  2. 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
  3. 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/
  4. The statement read out by one of the five, Ruth Jarman, at her police interview following arrest: https://christianclimateaction.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/ruth-jarmans-statement-read-at-police-interview-at-charing-cross-police-station-30th-nov-2015/

May 31st – A cloud of witnesses…

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Hello!

On May 31st CCA are in court.

5 of us are charged with Criminal Damage after painting DECC with whitewash and rebranding it ‘The Department for Extreme Climate Change’ in black paint.

We are asking our supporters to come to court and pray for us.  A cloud of witnesses for the defence if you will.

We will meet at the Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court at 9am on Tuesday 31st May and you are welcome to vigil outside or join us in the public gallery.

It is not permitted to make a political statement within the public gallery.  Appealing to a higher law and a higher judge than this magistrate may be considered an act of anarchism but you may get away with it.

More details to follow.

With Love,

CCA.

Catholic Action for Our Common Home

Written by CCA’s Father Martin Newell.

Published in the Birmingham Catholic Archdiocese newspaper, “Catholic Today”

CATHOLIC ACTION FOR OUR COMMON HOME

In “Laudato Si” last year, Pope Francis urged Catholics to care for our ‘sister earth’ and the God given life on it. He wrote that the earth is our neighbour we are called to love as ourselves, and it is poor and afflicted. He said we are turning God’s beautiful world into ‘an immense pile of filth’. We have been “seeing but not perceiving” (Jesus Mk 4:12) . Looking at God’s world through the eyes of faith, we see a common home full of the Spirit and Life, not just a place of atoms, chemicals and genes to exploit for comfort or convenience.

We do not see ‘piles of filth’ around us much in England, they are elsewhere: the tops taken off mountains, open cast mines as big as towns. Rivers and waters poisoned with cyanide to leach out the gold, ancient forests destroyed for wood for our homes, miles of scorched earth to produce oil, plastic in the oceans killing fish and the microscopic life they depend on. But we are having extreme weather, which scientists predicted: regular floods, the wettest month on record in December. Globally 2015 was the warmest year on record. Climate change is already causing death and destruction for the poorest especially, forcing people to migrate and seek refuge in places like Europe, just
to survive.

The argument about whether climate change is human caused, or even real – is over. World leaders at the Paris Summit in December agreed the human race needs to act to keep global temperature rises below two degrees above pre-industrial levels. Pope Francis and all the world’s governments have agreed that urgent changes are needed to prevent global disaster. The arguments now are about how much and how fast we need to change, and how to do it.

Because the effects hit the poorest hardest, at the Paris talks the Vatican and Catholic agencies like CAFOD pushed for temperature rises to be kept to 1.5 degrees. Practically they are pushing for carbon free electricity by 2030, and a zero carbon economy by 2050. These changes are enormous but possible. The technology is there and improving fast, but political will is still lacking.

As people of faith, we have to act. Like the Good Samaritan, we cannot “walk by on the other side”. Some say “What about China, India, or the USA?” They too are responsible, especially the USA. But the rich countries, including the UK, have the biggest responsibility and capacity to change: the poorer countries have emitted less carbon and can only make the shift if rich countries who can more easily afford it, act to help. When our neighbour is in need, we are called to respond. We cannot say “what about the Levite, that Temple priest – they should do something, they have more responsibility than us.” God will not ask us, “What did the others do for me?”

Our government is speaking fine words, saying it is combating climate change, but doing the opposite: like cutting solar energy subsidies while announcing new subsidies for fracking. This is the kind of hypocrisy Jesus criticized the Pharisees for, calling them ‘whitewashed tombs’, and Ezekiel called leaders in his day “whitewashed walls” (Ez 13).
John the Baptist warned the people of his time to avoid the “disaster that is coming”, and Jesus called them to “read

the signs of the times” and “repent”. As a prophetic warning, Jesus enacted the future destruction at the ‘cleansing of the Temple’. Humanly speaking, this challenging action led to His arrest and crucifixion. But the people continued on and eventually Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman Empire. We too need to “read the signs of the times”, “repent” (change our ways) and avoid “the disaster that is coming”.

So recently I joined a small Christian group who tried to follow Jesus’ example. We went to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) at the start of the Paris Summit. We took a white coffin with a plastic skeleton and words “DECC – Dept for Extreme Climate Change” inside. At the DECC, we painted the wall with whitewash, read the words of Ezekiel and Jesus and knelt down to pray. We were arrested and charged with criminal damage. We await trial in May, hoping to “bear witness to the faith that is in us”. Our prayer is that this small symbolic action will move others to act to protect our sister earth and the poorest of God’s family.

The Heathrow 13: Plane Stupid or Holy Fools?

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On Monday 25th January the 13 members of Plane Stupid who blockaded Heathrow Airport on the 13th of July 2015 were found guilty in Willesden Magistrates court. They return to court on February 24th for sentencing. The magistrate stated that she intended to deliver a custodial sentence, the maximum permissible period being 90 days.

In her summing up, the magistrate praised the 13 for their integrity, character and intentions and did not dispute that emissions from aviation would exacerbate climate change. Presently, Heathrow is the UKs second largest source of CO2 emissions after DRAX power station. David Cameron’s 2010 pre-election assurance of ‘no ifs, no buts, no new runway’ is now undone and the UK is back in line with global trends to increase aviation emissions to account for 22% of world greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This is in no way consistent with the UKs legal obligations under the Climate Change Act. Rather, it is entirely consistent with a planet inhospitable to living things.

The magistrate then went on to point out that the disruption caused to the thousands of travellers and the cost to the airport was so significant that she would have to punish them severely. This came as a surprise to many as no climate campaigner has ever been given a custodial sentence in the UK*.

The unprecedented nature of this sentence is noteworthy enough for those of us who personally engage with the issues of climate change. In addition, I feel this is very interesting from the point of view of the Christian observer and potential participant in such actions.

It is tempting to consider this court case and the action that led to it to be a matter of 13 individuals causing inconvenience to thousands and expense to a legitimate corporate entity. This notion that our lives are a matter of individuals exchanging discrete rational interactions is problematic. It is also the product of the fragile ego catered for by capitalism and entirely consistent with our ongoing descent into imminent catastrophic and multivariate collapse. I think as Christians we need to resist this world view.

The disruption caused to innocent bystanders and the opprobrium received from them as a result of acts of prophetic resistance is often a stumbling block for those of us considering non-violent direct action. However, this reasonable and considerate reticence seems more common for Christians than it apparently was for Christ.

Scarsellino_-_Driving_of_the_merchants_from_the_temple_-_Google_Art_ProjectScarsellinoDriving of the Merchants From the Temple

The most reported, cited and possibly most cinematic example of Jesus’ non-violent direct action was the cleansing of the temple. Here we are told that Jesus, with his followers, caused so great a disruption that temple business was stopped (Mark 11:16). This happened in the days leading up to the Passover, the national annual festival to which ordinary people would have spent days travelling, costing much time and expense. In addition, this was amongst the highlights of their religious calendar and Jesus blew it for a number of them. Perhaps, preceding his Crucifixion, if his accusers had not opted to charge him with blasphemy or sedition, someone would have pointed out the disruption that he and his followers (perhaps 13 in total but probably more) had caused to a lot of innocent bystanders in order to make an ideological point: A point they could, no doubt, have made otherwise through legitimate avenues.

The fact that Jesus did not consider the inconvenience or even spiritual and emotional distress of ‘ordinary people’ fit to deter him needs consideration. Amongst other matters we need to remember that the notion of individual morality as we understand it did not really exist then and arguably ought not to exist today in its current form. The notion that the just society is made up of just individuals is very self-indulgent and is the cause and effect of a great deal of consumerism: ideological, theological, ethical and moral consumerism.

Rather, we need to remember that just individuals are the product of a just society who then feedback to either improve or degrade societal justice, redefining normal, respectable and then legal behaviour with each generation and even on a day to day basis. Evidence suggests that we have been spiralling downwards for some time. Whether one sets year zero at the industrial revolution, the agricultural revolution, the fall of mankind or similar, we have clearly been at this for a while.

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As such the actions of the Heathrow 13 are not those of some individuals imposing their ideology on a great mass of innocents, but rather should be considered a contrarian component in the feedback loop that has us spiralling towards something like hell on earth. The dominant component in this feedback effect is the everyday, respectable and legal behaviour consistent with this polite genocide we find ourselves so comfortably implicated in. The problem with the actions of the Heathrow 13 is not the great disruption that they caused, but that there were only 13 of them and that they belong to a society devoted to self-destruction. It is very instructive that we have together constructed a society who celebrate troublemakers of the convenient past but respond to these contemporary actions with jail time (Matthew 23:29-31).

Regarding the expense caused to Heathrow Airport we Christians need to remember that the Gospel is the culmination of the process of liberation and restoration outlined in part in the Jubilee writings of Leviticus 25. Foundational to this is the statement that the earth is the Lord’s (Leviticus 25:23). As such, ultimate rights to land or resources are not purchasable (by an individual or corporate entity), nor can they be bestowed by favour, but everyone is subject to the law of love as revealed by Jesus Christ. The Heathrow 13 need to give an account of their actions but so does Heathrow Airport.

Jesus’ action overturning tables in the temple would have cost traders and the institution of the temple money, yet he was unapologetic. The legitimacy of the temple and the practices of those using it were not beyond question, rather they were beyond his forbearance. Since the role of Heathrow, not only in terms of emissions, but also in terms of commerce and culture, is not consistent with life on earth, the fact that the Heathrow 13 caused them financial loss may not be cause for concern.

Once again we see that we have together constructed a society that assumes Heathrow’s legitimacy over the activists. This reveals a preference for power, money and climate chaos that I believe is not in keeping with the example of Jesus Christ.

If what I have said is true, or even half true, then the position of those of us who seek to see the world through Christ-like eyes must be to question this verdict and the subsequent sentence. Our judicial system’s treatment of these unlucky 13 reveals to us what our world has become, and poses a challenge to us as the diaspora of the body of Christ, not of the world, but curiously comfortable in the world.

I realise that what I have written is not the majority view of the Church. We all feel called to be good citizens but some under Christ and some under Caesar. For most of us the requirements of these two Lords are indistinguishable. This also serves to reveal us to ourselves.

These 13 women and men appear in court on Feb 24th to receive sentencing. If you would like to show your support then we are invited to attend a solidarity rally outside Willesden Magistrates court at 9am on Weds 24th February.

* The 13 were charged with aggravated trespass and thus appeared in front of a magistrate. If they had been charged with public nuisance (for which they were arrested) they would have appeared in front of a jury. Juries at times find such defendants not guilty. This judgement is an institutional ruling and not an appeal to the conscience of our peers.

Westley Ingram is one of the 5 members of Christian Climate Action on trial in London on May 31st for painting the Department of Energy and Climate Change in whitewash on the first day of the Paris UN Climate Talks (COP21) last November.

Ruth Jarman’s statement read at police interview at Charing Cross police station 30th Nov, 2015

As a Christian I feel I need to take a stand against the death and destruction that is unfolding, aided by the policies of Dept. of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

DECC says that it is addressing climate change. It speaks fine words about the seriousness of the crisis. However, since the May election, this government has been dismantling all its climate policies, showing its words to be lies.

Jesus spoke about this sort of hypocrisy. In Matthew 23 he says:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

I wanted to reveal DECC to be a white-washed tomb and rebrand it as the Dept for Extreme climate Change.

There is no doubt in my mind that un-checked climate change threatens the continuation of abundant and civilised life on earth.

There is no doubt, for me, that allowing destruction of what God has made, the lives of billions and our civilisation, with its beautiful arts and music and culture is contrary to God’s will.

There is no doubt in my mind that DECC’s policies will act to bring on climate change, rather than slow it, both directly, and most crucially in their impact on the UN talks in Paris.

There is no doubt that current political action – MP lobbying, marches, consultations – all of which I have been doing for nearly 20 years now, are not being heeded. The very evening of the Big Climate Lobby on the 17th June, when thousands met with their MPs to ask them to put climate as a priority for this government, Amber Rudd announced the first of her ‘cut-the-green-crap’ policies, that subsidies for on-shore wind would be ending early.

There is no doubt, from the scientific point of view, that drastic, immediate, massive action is needed globally to avert catastrophe. At a human-induced temperature above 1.5, maybe 2 degrees, 3 degrees if we are particularly lucky, natural feedbacks will take over to escalate temperatures, and what humans do after that point is pretty immaterial. Climate change is not something we can leave to our children, or even put off for a few years. It must be dealt with now or not at all. All I am asking is the UK does its part. Historically and morally we have no right to any more carbon space in the atmosphere and should stop producing carbon now. I understand that is not possible. But actions commensurate with this understanding are required.

The urgency demands something more that un-heeded letters and marches. I feel I am being called to witness to the seriousness and urgency of this crisis. The world, and all of us as individuals, need to break out of our cycle of apathy, denial, despair and helplessness, to acts of prophetic resistance. I hope that my small act of resistance will inspire others to act in their own way to peacefully resist the evil of climate change.

Dear Amber – the letter we handed in to DECC to explain our re-branding exercise

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Reggie on a mission to hand in the letter.

Christian Climate Action

November 30th, 2015
Amber Rudd MP
DECC
3 Whitehall Place
London SW1A 2AW

Dear Ms Rudd,

We are a group of Christians concerned about climate change and its impact on God’s creation, the lives of people now the world over, and future generations, including our children and grandchildren.

Climate change is not one in a number of issues to be addressed. A stable climate is a fundamental need on which the maintenance of our civilisation and the earth’s abundant life relies. There will be no economy, health or security to speak of on the planet towards which we are currently heading.

Your department says that it exists ‘to make sure the UK has secure, clean, affordable energy supplies and promote international action to mitigate climate change.’ We list below evidence that it is doing exactly the opposite. That it is promoting dangerous, dirty and expensive energy at the expense of safe, clean and affordable supplies, and, in the process, scuppering chances of sufficient international action on climate change.

The Jesus that we follow talks about institutions that say one thing and do another. In the Gospel of Matthew he says, ‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.’ We think DECC is like a whitewashed tomb, appearing on the outside to be doing the right thing on climate change, while on the inside it is actively causing the death and destruction of all we hold dear.

Back in 2009, G20 countries including the UK pledged to phase out ‘inefficient’ fossil fuel subsidies. But on the 19 March 2015: George Osborne announces £1 billion worth of subsidies for North Sea Oil, on top of a whole series of previous measures, including support for further exploration.

16 June: The European Union says the UK is set to miss its EU target of generating 15 per cent of its energy (not just electricity) by renewable methods, despite being set one of the lowest targets of all EU countries.

17 June: The very evening of the Big Climate Lobby on the 17th June, when thousands met with their MPs to ask them to put climate as a priority, you announced the first of your ‘cut-the-green-crap’ policies, that new onshore wind farms (the cheapest form of renewable energy) will be excluded from a subsidy scheme from 1 April 2016, a year earlier than planned.

25 June: The UK says it will sell off up to 70 per cent of its Green Bank, set up to lend money to risky green schemes such as wind farms that couldn’t raise cash elsewhere. The sell-off means it may no longer focus on risky green schemes, and most of the profits will not go to taxpayers. By contrast, a similar US scheme is set to make $5 billion profit for taxpayers on $30 billion-worth of loans. Companies it helped include Tesla Motors, which paid back its loan early.

30 June: The Committee on Climate Change warns that the UK is not on course to meet targets after 2020. Its recommendations include taking action to encourage long-term investment in low-carbon energy, such as by extending existing short-term schemes to a 10-year timescale.

8 July: Budget changes reduce the incentive to buy low-emission vehicles. Under the current system, the more CO2 a car emits, the more the owner has to pay each year. But from April 2017, the tax will only be higher in the first year; in later years, it’s the same for all cars.

Also in the 8 July Budget: The ‘Climate Change Levy’ designed to penalise polluting power plants is applied to clean energy. As Friends of the Earth said, it’s like putting an alcohol tax on apple juice.

10 July: The zero carbon homes plan is scrapped. From 2016, all homes built in the UK were supposed to be carbon neutral. The idea was to achieve this by building energy-efficient homes and generating solar and wind energy on-site. The requirement, announced in 2006 by then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, would have been the first of its kind in the world.

22 July: Plans to cut subsidies for solar power and for converting power plants to use biomass are announced. These changes may well be challenged in the courts.

23 July: The Green Deal plan to help people make homes more energy efficient is scrapped. The scheme was a flop, with very low take-up, but nearly a third of the UK’s emissions come from its housing, which is inefficiently heated and poorly insulated. This problem remains and there’s still no sign of an alternative policy.

16 September: The UK drops out of the top 10 in a list of the best countries in which to invest in renewable energy. The UK had topped the Ernst & Young ‘Renewable energy country attractiveness index in 2013. The EY report says: ‘A raft of policy revisions likely to dramatically slow deployment across a range of technologies have been rushed through (apparently on cost grounds), while a pro-nuclear, offshore wind and shale gas stance has left investors wondering what the UK Government is trying to achieve, and what evidence, if any, is being used to inform policy.’

22 September: The head of the Confederation of British Industry attacks the rollback of green policies, saying it is damaging investor confidence and the UK’s standing on the international stage.

29 September: The head of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, criticises the lack of action to tackle climate change. He warns it threatens financial stability in three ways: direct losses from climate-related events like floods, liability claims from parties who suffer these losses and also because the stock market value of fossil fuel companies will collapse if they are not allowed to extract all their reserves.

2 October: Plans to build £1 billion tidal power scheme in Wales are delayed by a year.

19th November: You announce proposals to close non-abated coal plants by 2025. We welcome this. But are terrified by your insistence that gas must take its place, and by your condition, that ‘we’ll only proceed if we’re confident that the shift [from coal] to new gas can be achieved within these timescales.’

All this whilst enormous subsidies continue to pour into the fossil fuel industry and industrial biofuels, and fracking plans forge ahead whilst democratic and environmental safeguards are dismantled. We are going backwards, fast. This is not leadership away from climate change. This is leading the charge against any possibility of a safe future.

We feel that the hypocrisy of DECC must be disclosed. We are here to reveal that it is a whitewashed tomb, as described by Jesus, and to re-brand DECC as the Department for Extreme Climate Change.

Yours sincerely,

Christian Climate Action

CCA go to court on May 31st 2016.

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Following the arrest of 5 members of Christian Climate Action on Monday 30th Novemeber 2015 and their subsequent charge of ‘Criminal Damage’ we will be appearing at Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 31st May having each plead not guilty.

The 5 defendants do not contest that on November 30th 2015 they applied Whitewash to the walls of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and renamed it the  ‘Department for Extreme Climate Change’ in black paint.

This coincided with the 1st day of the International Climate Talks in Paris (COP21) and sought to evoke the words of Jesus Christ (Matt 23:27-28), and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 13:1-16).

We were arrested while praying next to a white washed coffin and model skeleton by the entrance of DECC.

In addition we handed in the following letter to Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for DECC outlining a number of the areas where the Government is acting to worsen Climate Change despite its claims.

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