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Priest arrested three times in three days for climate protesting

14 July 2023


The Revd Bill White with police outside Parliament last week

The Revd Bill White with police outside Parliament last week

A RETIRED priest has been arrested three times in as many days for taking part in a slow march through central London, in protest at the Government’s policy of exploring for new fossil-fuel reserves in the North Sea.

The Revd Bill White, who is 68 and a grandfather from Macclesfield, took part in the protests with 34 others by walking along roads through different parts of the capital.

He said: “The situation we’re in demands no new oil, gas, or coal. It’s not fair that others are suffering and dying because of our addiction to burning oil. Our disgraced Government can’t get this right without our help. They hear the message of the oil industry loud and clear. Now they need to hear the voices of ordinary people — your voice.”

He was echoing a warning from the International Energy Agency, which said that, in 2021, no new oil and gas fields should be exploited if the world was to limit global heating to below 1.5°C, as outlined in the internationally agreed Paris Agreement.

Each time Mr White was arrested, once he had been released by police, he joined another march the next day. “As a Christian, I am frequently reminded of the command to love my neighbour as myself. In obedience to this, I am called to sound the alarm about the climate crisis, but always in a way which is non-violent, consistent with the teaching and example of Jesus,” he said.

Last week, the world experienced the hottest day on record, with a global average temperature of 17.2°C. This broke the previous record, which had been set the day before. Scientists announced that June was also the hottest month on record.

Two other Christians were arrested this week while taking part in slow marches in London: a retired priest, the Revd Sue Parfitt, and Ruth Jarman. Ms Jarman, a mother of three from Hampshire, said: “Last week, we had the hottest global average temperate since records began, and it barely made it into the news. Society seems set on sleepwalking over a cliff, and our Government is pushing us full steam ahead. As a mother, I’m determined to do everything I can to stop the climate suffering of our young people.”

At the Wimbledon tennis tournament, members of the campaign group Just Stop Oil threw orange jigsaw pieces on to one of the courts. Outside the courts, members of Christian Climate Action were protesting against Wimbledon’s sponsor Barclays, said to be Europe’s largest financier of fossil fuels. Members of the group petitioned those queuing, put up posters, and even wheeled around a giant pink model of a dodo.

The Revd Helen Burnett, Team Vicar of St Peter and St Paul, Chaldon, with St Luke’s, Whyteleafe, in the diocese of Southwark, said: “This rather ludicrous giant pink dodo is here to highlight the ludicrous folly of human behaviour. We are hurtling, eyes wide open, towards a catastrophe. The eradication of the dodo was not a massive global event like the one we face, but it was a human-made extinction.”

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