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By Holly-Anna Petersen, Operation Noah Trustee
In life, there is a time for a softly softly approach and a time for putting your foot down. As we edge ever closer to climate collapse, it’s clear that if we want a habitable planet, this is a time for the latter.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we must effectively cut global emissions in half by 2030 to avoid the most catastrophic climate impacts – no small task given that emissions continue to go up, not down. To achieve this drastic reduction in emissions and limit global heating to 1.5C, the International Energy Agency says we must stop all new fossil fuel developments around the world, as we have more oil and gas from existing fossil fuel developments than we can safely burn.
Over the last few months, a groundswell of people and groups have been calling for an end to fossil fuel exploration and extraction. Last month, a 21 year-old young man attached himself to the goal post at a football match between Everton and Newcastle United as part of a campaign called Just Stop Oil. The demands of the group are that the UK government make a statement that it will immediately halt all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK – something increasing numbers of countries are committed to doing as part of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, which is led by Costa Rica and Denmark.
When answering the question of why this is important, Just Stop Oil says:
‘It’s the very first step to ensuring our survival. We already have more oil and gas than we can afford to burn. Let’s get on with ending our reliance on fossil fuels completely: by powering ahead with renewables and reducing the demand for energy; by insulating Britain and rethinking how we travel; by ensuring that no-one is left behind and everyone’s voice is heard.’
And many other groups are also taking action under the aim of halting fossil fuels. For example, a coalition of groups have united under the umbrella, Beyond Fossil Fuels Together (BFFT). Their website reads:
‘Despite the wonderful words at COP26, the UK government is still pouring £10 billion a year into the fossil fuel industry. We need to move beyond our addiction to fossil fuels NOW with an immediate end to new oil exploration and licences, and to fossil fuel subsidies’.
Earlier this month, BFFT held a vigil outside Parliament. The vigil took place continuously, throughout the day and night, for two weeks.
Operation Noah is also committed to bringing about an end to the fossil fuel era, and we do this through different means. Firstly, our Bright Now campaign urges church denominations to take their investments out of fossil fuels as a way of stripping the financing of fossil fuel extraction.
We are also an official member of the Stop Cambo campaign, which is working to stop all new oil and gas developments in the UK (not just Cambo), and we promote the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance.
Operation Noah also harnesses the prophetic voice of the Church to speak truth to power on this issue. For example, last week we organised and backed an open letter from nearly 70 bishops and 500+ Church leaders to the UK Government, calling for an end to all new fossil fuel developments.
This is a time of climate emergency. The time for token eco-gestures and half-green measures is over. It’s time for us to decide what we want: fossil fuels or life. We invite you to join Operation Noah on this prophetic and urgent journey of saying no to fossil fuels by becoming a supporter, signing up to our monthly newsletter and divesting your church or diocese.
Holly-Anna Petersen is is a CBT therapist, a trustee of Operation Noah and the founder of Christian Climate Action.