Six ordinary Christians in different locations across the UK stopped traffic as they sat in the road today in protest at the lack of action over the climate emergency. Caroline Harmon in Loughborough and Ben in Dorchester were arrested for obstructing the highway. They were amongst hundreds of people across the UK blocking roads locally to say they will no longer stand by while the UK government lies to the public about its tepid plans to tackle the climate crisis and protect creation, two years after Parliament declared a climate emergency.
Ben in Dorchester, Ruth Urbanowicz in Brighton, Julie Stamford in London, Joe Peall in Ipswich, Caroline Harmon in Loughborough and Sue Hampton in Harpenden, all Christians, stopped traffic for approximately an hour each by peacefully sitting in the road wearing signs that read:
- ‘I am terrified for the future of my child because of the climate crisis’ (Caroline Harmon)
- ‘I am terrified Children will see God’s creation DESTROYED Because of the Climate CRISIS’ (Julie Stamford)
- ‘I’m terrified for biodiversity and humanity because of the climate crisis’ (Ben)
- ‘I’m terrified for the future of our kids because of climate change’ (Ruth Urbanowicz)
- I’m terrified of starting a family with my fiancée because of the climate crisis (Joe Peall in Ipswich)
- I’m terrified that government greenwash won’t protect the world’s children from climate change.’ (Sue Hampton)
Their action was part of an approach developed during the Covid-19 pandemic by members of Extinction Rebellion, in which people can engage in civil disobedience to highlight the crisis, alone yet united.
In a statement to explain why she was taking this action, Caroline Harmon, in Loughborough, said:
‘We’re hurtling towards a future, a horrible future, that I don’t want my child to have to live in. I hate to think I will inconvenience people today but we’re going to have to inconvenience ourselves much more to tackle this properly. Sitting in the road is my desperate attempt to see us do what we need to do to protect the creation God has given us to steward.’
Joe Peall, in Ipswich, said:
‘Blocking the road is scary, and none of us should be led to act in this way. The truth is, my fear of blocking the road is overwhelmed by my fear of the climate crisis. We in the UK will be among the last to see the devastating effects of the ecosystem breakdown, but the global south is already suffering greatly with wars, famine, mass migration and more. I am planning a future and a family with my fiancée. My children will grow up in a world of terrible pain and injustice that could have been prevented. The climate crisis will impact you or your children, and when our government fails to act for our future, ordinary people like you and I must take action to bring about the change we need.’
Ruth Urbanowicz, in Brighton, said:
‘Christ has no body here on earth but ours. I feel I must act whenever I can to wake more people up and put pressure on the government to see that the climate and ecological emergency is the most urgent and important issue we face. By being brave and foolish I hope I will make a difference.’
Julie Stamford, in London, said:
‘I believe that this world is heading for a global catastrophe because of climate change. I, and others, have tried other ways of protest over the years and the government is still not acting quickly enough, so I feel forced to stop the traffic to raise this issue.
‘As a Christian I believe we have been given a beautiful Earth created by God to look after and cherish, which we are NOT doing. As a Science teacher for 38 years I believe the science facts are irrefutable and I cannot bear to let my pupils be denied a beautiful world to enjoy in their future. Perhaps, most importantly, as a mother I fear for my daughter and any future children that I will leave them a dreadful mess to live in.’
Ben, in Dorchester, said:
‘Why am I sitting in the road on this Saturday of a bank holiday weekend, causing misery for others, who could easily be my parents, family and friends? The climate and ecological system is in a critical state… I’m terrified for biodiversity and humanity, with coral reef and their ecosystems likely to be extinct, and large parts of the earth become uninhabitable, resulting in famine, migration, conflict, and a fortress mentality.
‘As a Christian I believe we are called to serve the natural world and humanity, following the example of our God who became human and died on a cross. What is required of us, the changes needed, they are required at all levels, from individual to governmental… and they must be deep systematic changes.’
Sue Hampton, in Harpenden, wrote this blog about her experience.
In February, chief executive of the Environment Agency Sir James Bevan, said that the UK is hitting worst case environmental scenarios that if left unchecked would collapse ecosystems, slash crop yields, take out the infrastructure that our civilisation depends on, and destroy the basis of the modern economy and modern society. Our leaders are still not taking this seriously. It’s time for ordinary people to step up and demand action.
As we emerge from the devastation of Covid-19, the UK Government is telling the public it has the climate and ecological crisis in hand. With the eyes of the world on the UK – the hosts of the COP26 climate summit – the Prime Minister claims the government is committed to ‘building back greener’ from the pandemic. In the past 6 months, our government has invested £27bn in new roads and the Heathrow expansion ruling has been overturned. A report by Positive Money found that by June last year 56% of Covid funding distributed by the Bank of England went to carbon intensive industries, including airlines, car manufacturers and oil and gas companies.
The Committee on Climate Change – the body tasked with monitoring government progress on reducing admissions – said in its progress report last June that the UK has failed on 17 out of 21 progress indicators, falling further behind in many areas and that just two of 31 key policy milestones have been met over the year since parliament declared emergency . In December last year, the National Audit Office found that the UK Government is predicted to fail to meet its existing climate targets and said that a radical reassessment of priorities was needed.