The Global Church and the Fossil Fuelled Five webinar


Together with Laudato Si’ Movement, World Council of Churches, Green Anglicans and GreenFaith, Operation Noah organised a webinar ahead of the Stockholm +50 conference entitled The Global Church and the Fossil Fuelled Five.

The webinar outlined how fossil fuel divestment, support for the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and opposition to new fossil fuel developments are three key actions that Churches and faith groups around the world can take in response to the climate crisis.

The Fossil Fuelled 5 report, published during COP26 by the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and partners, examines five wealthy nations – the UK, US, Canada, Australia and Norway – that have a widening gap between their rhetoric on climate action and their plans to expand the production of fossil fuels.

UN Secretary General António Guterres recently said: ‘Fossil fuel interests are now cynically using the war in Ukraine to try to lock in a high carbon future. A shift to renewables is crucial to mending our broken global energy mix and offering hope to millions suffering climate impacts today.’

The webinar was chaired by Tash Jesson, member of the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN), former Mobilisation Coordinator of the Relay to COP26 and PhD student at King’s College London. It included inspiring speakers and case studies from around the world, including South Africa, the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and Sweden.

Bill McKibben, Author, environmentalist and co-founder of 350.org, spoke of the current geopolitical context around fossil fuels and the need for a rapid shift to renewable energy and clean technologies. He warned of the major oil companies’ fossil fuel expansion projects and encouraged Churches and faith institutions to divest from fossil fuel companies and support the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. ‘None of it is unexpected; all of it is brutal’, he said, adding: ‘We need to be moving very fast and on an enormous scale because we are very far behind.’

Revd Dr Rachel Mash, Environmental Coordinator of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, shared some of the ways in which fossil fuel companies have harmed communities around the African continent. Yet, alternatively, green investment would benefit local communities rather than destabilise them. ‘More jobs would be created by renewable energy projects; massive investment is needed,’ she said.

Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director at Stand.earth and Chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, gave an overview of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and its progress, and warned of fossil fuel expansion projects like Equinor’s Bay du Nord oil project in Canada. She spoke about the need for governments to stop throwing fuel on the fire of the climate crisis. She said: ‘At this moment in history, we need bold and immediate action.’

Pastor Ray Minniecon, Executive Member, Indigenous Peoples’ Organization and Australian indigenous Anglican pastor, said: ‘We’ve looked after our country for the past 60,000 years in collaboration with our Creator. We looked after the land, and the land looked after us…now we’ve broken our connection with our Creator.’

Revd abby mohaupt, Director of Education and Training at GreenFaith, spoke about the campaign for divestment in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She asked the audience to consider where they experience climate change in their lives and pointed out that, as opposed to 10 years ago, more and more people can answer that question in multiple ways – including her own family. She described the advocacy efforts as being ‘moved by theologies of care and justice, for people who have been marginalised and left behind.’

Revd Henrik Grape, Senior Advisor on Care for Creation, Sustainability and Climate Justice for the World Council of Churches (WCC), shared the experience of the WCC and the Church of Sweden in divesting from fossil fuel companies. He lamented that we must still advocate for these changes, which he said should have been made long ago. He said: ‘We have to fight against greed and selfishness…You don’t put petrol on the fire, which is exactly what is happening.’

James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Director at Operation Noah, shared that while most UK Churches have now fully divested from fossil fuel companies, both the Church of England and Catholic Church in England and Wales are still investing in fossil fuel companies – although an increasing number of dioceses are deciding to divest. Some are also investing in climate solutions, including the Diocese of Truro in the Church of England.

How your church can get involved

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