Saturday’s day of prayer and action on Climate Change saw Christian campaigners pray for the success of the current United Nations climate conference in Qatar and help construct a replica of the ‘keystone’ pipeline between the US Embassy and Canadian High Commission in Grosvenor Square.
First, an ecumenical prayer service, hosted by Christian Ecology Link (CEL) and Operation Noah at the Grosvenor Chapel in Mayfair, was led by Rev Chris Polhill. In her talk during the service, Catholic journalist Ellen Teague stressed that Climate Change is a development problem. “Living within the carbon budget that the scientific community has set is a difficult paradigm shift for economists and politicians working within the prevailing economic growth model” she said. She welcomed the new LiveSimply parish award for Catholic parishes, pointing out that the first parish to achieve the award – St John Bosco in Reading – has installed solar panels on the roof, organises an annual liturgy to appreciate God’s Creation and does advocacy work on Climate Change. Reeta Bellety of the parish was in the congregation, along with Roger Wright, whose parish of St James, Petts Wood, recently started working towards the award.
Pat Gaffney, Director of Pax Christi, said afterwards that thinking 'out of the box' in order to wake the world up to the urgency of action on climate change was a key message in the service. “In her sermon, Ellen Teague challenged peace and development agencies to do more to highlight the links between poverty, militarism and climate change” she said; “this might be the impact of climate change on food shortages or defence policies that tie us into nuclear defence programmes”. Pat Gaffney felt, “such thinking will help us all understand the real threats to security in our world and use our respective skills and knowledge to work together for deep change”.
The service was “well planned and very moving” said Roger Wright “and it is reassuring to know that Christians do have an interest in this most pressing problem facing humanity and were well represented on the march”. He was delighted to see support for the Campaign Against Climate Change and the enthusiasm of the young activists was uplifting, reflecting that “such protests may fall on deaf government ears but they are morale boosters for those who take part”.
Sr Louisa Poole, of the Board of Operation Noah, highlighted key points from the Organisation’s Ash Wednesday Declaration. In it, church leaders have called for repentance over the prevailing 'shrug-culture' towards climate change.
The Declaration is framed around seven biblical themes and argues that, to be a Christian is to accept the call to radical discipleship and to work through the implications for church life of a real change in lifestyle. Operation Noah believes that avoiding our duty to substantially reduce emissions is immoral, shirking our responsibilities both to those suffering as a consequence of climate change now and to future generations.
The congregation then moved to Grosvenor Square and joined in building a 200 metre 'oil pipeline' from the Canadian High Commission to the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square (See: www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/01/anti-fracking-activists-parliament-protests ) to protest against the Keystone XL pipeline being built to transport Canadian Tar Sands oil to the US.
After being provided by Hari Krishna volunteers with a free meal of hot curry to warm everybody up on an extremely cold day, there followed a march to Westminster where anti-fracking activists erected a mock drilling rig outside the Houses of Parliament, as part of a series of protests on Saturday against the controversial technique to extract shale gas. The controversial process involves pumping water and chemicals into shale rock at high pressure to extract the gas. It was temporarily banned after it was blamed for two earthquakes in Lancashire in 2011, but, according to The Independent, Energy Secretary Ed Davey will soon end the moratorium. Campaigners also delivered a letter to 10 Downing Street.
Campaigners expressed disappointment at the government’s Energy Bill, released last week. The Bill specifies no target for making the power sector carbon-free – something that the government’s own independent advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change, says is necessary.
For further reports and a film see: www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20568469