A GROUP of Christians blockaded the road outside the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday as part of a non-violent demonstration in protest at the Government’s lack of action to tackle climate change. The action has been backed by 94 academics, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt Revd Lord Williams.
On Wednesday, the group, together with hundreds of other concerned citizens, held a rally in Parliament Square before sitting in the road, stopping traffic for more than an hour. The group pinned a series of requests to Parliament, which included the Government’s reducing UK carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and the creation of a citizen’s assembly to develop an emergency plan for responding to the climate crisis. If these demands are not met by 12 November, an “extinction rebellion” will begin, with further direct action.
One of the protesters, from Christian Climate Action, Ruth Jarman, 55, who attends an Anglican church in Hampshire, said that the Government’s cutting renewable subsidies and promoting fracking had forced her into action.
“We need a step change,” she said. “If God has a plan to prevent breakdown of what makes life on earth possible, I think it might include his spirit in all of us being moved to civil disobedience. Look at civil rights in America and the Suffragettes here. People went to prison. People died. Stopping the extinction of all the best bits of creation, including possibly us, has got to be worth as much as the human equality that people fought for in the past.”
Another member of the group, Phil Kingston, aged 82, from Bristol, said that he was prepared to be arrested after the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He said: “This breakdown is already happening worldwide, and the IPCC report spells out both the seriousness and the urgency that we face. None of the main political parties are responding with the level of ambition which is essential if we are to respond with the necessary commitment and sacrifice shown in World War II.”
In a letter to The Guardian, the academics, including Lord Williams, said that it was their moral duty to act. They write: “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 inaction and flagrant dereliction of duty, and to rebel to defend life itself.”