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Clergy join Greta Thunberg in protest outside London oil conference

20 October 2023


The environmental activist Greta Thunberg is taken away by police officers during the Oily Money Out protest in London on Tuesday

The environmental activist Greta Thunberg is taken away by police officers during the Oily Money Out protest in London on Tuesday

CHURCH of England clergy were among those who joined the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in protest outside a meeting of oil executives and government ministers in London on Tuesday.

Ms Thunberg was arrested by the Metropolitan Police outside the Energy Intelligence Forum, formerly the Oil and Money Conference and recently rebranded. The annual industry conference is sometimes referred to as the “Oscars of Oil”.

The Revd Jonathan Morris, a retired priest from Ilminster, in Somerset, helped to blockade the road outside the InterContinental Hotel, Park Lane, with members of Christian Climate Action. “This is one of the biggest oil conferences in the world,” he said. “These corporations are taking record profits, which is ramping up the cost-of-living crisis. And they are driving through fossil fuel expansion, which is stripping a future from our children.

“I’m here because this is what being faithful has led me to today. As a Christian, I love every person inside the building, but I hate their greed and systematic sin. I’m here to speak against that — not just with words, but in prayerful protest.”

The other known clergy were the Revd Helen Burnett and the Revd Tim Daplyn.

Other activists from Greenpeace abseiled down the side of the building with a banner, “Make Big Oil Pay”. In total, the police made 29 arrests.

Before she was arrested, Ms Thunberg said that the oil executives had no intention of decarbonising their industries: “Their plan is to continue this destructive search for profits. That is why we have to take direct action to stop this and to kick oil money out of politics. We have no other option but to put our bodies outside this conference and to physically disrupt it.”

Earlier this year, the Church Commissioners sold their investments in oil and gas companies (News, 30 June), after years of trying to persuade them to change course.

Melanie Nazareth, a lawyer and member of Christian Climate Action, who was part of the protest, said: “The fossil-fuel industry sits at the polluted heart of the climate emergency. We cannot stand by as oil companies destroy our communities and burn our common home for the sake of profit.”

Joe Ware is a senior climate journalist at Christian Aid.

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