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Date posted: 17 December 2015
Operation Noah board members Ruth Jarman and Reggie Norton are also members of Christian Climate Action, which witnesses to the urgency of climate change. Under this banner, they have highlighted what they see as the hypocrisy of the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
In December they delivered a letter to DECC explaining why they see the Department as – in Jesus’ words – ‘whitewashed tombs’. They accompanied this with a literal whitewashing of the DECC building, for which Ruth and others were arrested. They appear in court on 31 May 2016.
The text of the letter, addressed to Amber Rudd MP, is below.
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 could 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.
Christian Climate Action
For more information, see the Christian Climate Action Facebook group.