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On 7 February at 7pm, members of Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) will gather outside the Norwegian embassy in London, praying for Norway to think again about its endorsement of new oil and gas developments in the midst of a climate crisis.
Equinor, a company that the Norwegian government owns a majority stake in, is looking to develop an enormous North Sea oil field in UK waters called Rosebank; the Norwegian government also recently announced that it would offer a record number of oil and gas exploration blocks in the Arctic as it seeks to extend Norway’s fossil fuel production.
Last year, more than 500 UK Church leaders of all denominations – including 68 Anglican and Catholic bishops – called on the UK Government to stop all new oil and gas fields, as new fossil fuel developments are inconsistent with the international goal of limiting global heating to 1.5ºC.
Nevertheless, the UK Government is now considering over 100 applications for new North Sea oil and gas developments, the biggest of which is Rosebank.
At nearly three times the size of the Cambo oil field – which drew significant protests across the UK in 2021 and gave birth to the Stop Cambo campaign, of which Operation Noah is an official supporter – it is estimated that burning Rosebank’s oil and gas would create more carbon emissions than the combined emissions of 28 low-income countries, including Uganda, Ethiopia and Mozambique.
Dr Chris Manktelow, YCCN Campaigns Lead, said that other Christians, as well as people of other faiths or none, are invited to join the inclusive vigil next Tuesday for ‘a time of prayer or silent reflection’.
‘We think this is a very important campaign,’ Manktelow said. ‘Both the UN and the International Energy Agency have said that we need to stop giving out new oil and gas licenses. The UK isn’t doing that, the Norwegian government isn’t doing that.’
Manktelow said it is important for Christians to be involved in campaigns to stop new oil and gas developments, as ‘faith groups may not always feature as prominently in the campaigning around this, so it’s about showing there are a wide range of people who care. Hopefully we can apply a bit of pressure.’
‘The other thing I was going to point out is the link with the cost of living crisis. I know a lot of churches are concerned about that and are often on the front lines of helping people who are struggling, and this is basically giving Equinor a £500 million tax break while Equinor are making record profits. You’ve got to ask questions around this.’
Indeed, research by the campaigning group Uplift has found that, due to the subsidy scheme introduced by the UK Government as part of the so-called Windfall Tax, the UK public would effectively hand over more than half a billion pounds to Rosebank’s owners to develop the polluting field – this in the midst of a cost of living crisis and a climate crisis, and all while fossil fuel companies are making record profits.
‘We want a fairer future,’ Manktelow said.