Norwich couple urge action on climate change
Norwich Christian climate change activists Jim and Sue Green attended the Extinction Rebellion, staged by Christian Climate Action, in London on Sunday and here Jim urges other Christians to consider the issue and taking action.
After Remembrance Services at our church in Norwich on November 11 my wife Sue and I travelled from Norwich to London to join other members of Christian Climate Action (CCA) and take part the next day in the Extinction Rebellion (ER) against government inaction on climate change. I had been down for the rally and road sit in Parliament Square on October 31, and we had both taken part previously in various smaller scale actions with CCA.
On Monday, ten members of CCA met an hour before the main gathering to share and pray. From different denominations, but mainly Anglican and Catholic, we included two gentlemen in their eighties, and Ruth Jarman, who had with her a copy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s‘ The Cost of Discipleship’. From reading it on her train journey she recalled Bonhoeffer referring to the fact that as Christians we are salt and light: ‘Now we must be what we really are.’
Then, together with the main body of ER, we headed for the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Some members of CCA went into the building, sprayed the ER logo on the windows and sat down to await arrest, while some locked themselves together.
Other members, including Sue and myself remained outside. Those inside and outside recited a litany for the Earth, including space for us to declare our complicity in the crisis and worshipped: Jubilate, Jesus is Lord, Give me Oil in my Lamp and other songs common to different traditions were shared.
Passers-by were mostly very positive. Some were surprised and pleased to see Christians in this arena. One lady had experienced the litany, recited by Ruth and Fr Martin, at the Rebellion launch in Parliament square on October 31 and told us that it had reignited her faith: she could see that it related to the real world.
One gentleman said that he had a four-year-old son and was very worried about climate change and thanked us deeply for what we were doing.
There were 22 arrests overall, including three from CCA. Shortly before being the first arrested, Ruth Jarman said through her tears: “If we don't take action now, we will be the last generation who can.”
Fr Martin Newell, one of those arrested, said: “We are crucifying God’s earth, creating ongoing climate change that will cause disasters that would completely undermine any practical good work otherwise done. As a Christian I am called to act in solidarity with the crucified, and witness to God’s sacrificial love for His people and His creation.”
Why were we doing this? For me, it comes down to the simple command of Jesus to, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ and we all know that the issue Jesus raises is not working out who our neighbour is, but finding out how to be a neighbour.
The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate. Change report spells out how we have 12 years to prevent catastrophic, irreversible climate breakdown, such that the word ‘Extinction’ is an appropriate one to use.
At the same time we had a Budget in which climate change was not mentioned once, there was no money for renewable energy and an increase in subsidy for fossil fuels, along with the active promotion of fracking.
Many of us over the years have visited our MP, signed petitions, been on marches and generally done what we can, but Government does not listen.
Last week, in a letter to the Guardian, 94 academics, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt Rev Rowan Williams, said that it was their moral duty to act.
“When a government wilfully abrogates its responsibility to protect its citizens from harm and to secure the future for generations to come, it has failed in its most essential duty of stewardship. The ‘social contract’ has been broken and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty to bypass the Government’s inactivity and flagrant dereliction of duty and rebel to protect life itself.”
If I am going to be a good neighbour to anyone, I have to take practical steps in my own life to address the greatest crisis of our time.
I can pursue this in my involvement with Christian Climate Action, and in our connection with Extinction Rebellion, which is committed to effective, disciplined, non-violent direct action which shows care and respect for the police, those affected by the actions and for participants.
Christian Climate Action will continue to participate in the Extinction Rebellion this week, including a day of action in London on Saturday November 17.
Listen to Jim and Sue Green talk on Radio Norfolk about their action here, start listening at 2.12.50 hrs
Pictured above are Jim (right) and Sue Green (left) during the Extinction Rebellion outside the Department for Business in London.