11 Christians who are involved in Christian Climate Action have also been involved in Insulate Britain over the last five weeks. In this blog we hear from four of them about what they are asking for and why they feel called to sit on roads.
The demands of Insulate Britain are a no brainer. In 2020, Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, named housing retrofit the ‘number-one investment priority’ for the government. Insulating homes would not only tackle the climate emergency, it is also: ‘labour intensive, it’s geographically spread, there’s a manifesto commitment in place to fund it and the economics really stack up. I suppose you could say, if you don’t do it now, when are you going to do it?’ It would also tackle fuel poverty; in 2019, 13.4% of the households in the UK were struggling to afford to heat their homes.
Insulate Britain’s tactics have proved controversial, even within movements such as Christian Climate Action. But whatever you think of the tactics we do have an emergency on our hands and it takes a lot of bravery to risk violence, arrest and prison to draw attention to the climate crisis and our government’s failure to protect God’s creation and avert a climate catastrophe. Some of the Christians involved are committed to breaking several injunctions served on them, knowing that this is likely to lead to a prison sentence.
Revd Sue Parfitt, 79 and Ruth Jarman, 58: ‘We have no choice if we are to be faithful and obedient to our Christian calling.’
‘Eleven members of CCA have joined the Insulate Britain Campaign and have taken part in one or, mostly, several actions, blocking motorways since 13th September. As Christians we are doing this because we believe that we are being called to respond in this particular way to this unique crisis that is facing humanity.
‘At every moment in human history, human beings have seen the need to respond to the challenge of their time. This is our moment, a unique moment, unlike any other that has preceded it and it happens that we in our generation are being given this unique task to do – that is to take every step available to us to at least slow down the arrival of the full effects of the climate catastrophe.
‘Christians, amongst everyone else, have their own calling from God at this time. We are being given the extraordinary privilege of being able to live out the full meaning of our vocation as Christians in this one particular way. We are being asked to follow Jesus on the way of the cross, take up our own cross, lay down our lives and give all that we have to the task of saving God’s beautiful creation from extinction.
‘We have no choice if we are to be faithful and obedient to our Christian calling. The needs of our time require us to step up to the challenge that is laid upon us, whatever the cost. We have to do what we are doing; because we know that there is no future for nearly all of God’s species unless we can persuade the governments of the world to act urgently, radically and immediately and to use the COP26 conference to arrive at a timetable of action that will realistically address both the climate and biodiversity emergencies that are upon us now.
‘Jesus demands the whole of us and gives us the great opportunity and privilege of making the gift of the whole of ourselves for this task. He does not give us time to attend to other matters however pressing and however worthy. We do not have time to go and bury our dead – He needs us to give ourselves to this work of bringing in the Kingdom now. He calls us out of our comfort zones onto the hard wet tarmac to face the abuse and violence of the crowds and maybe the misunderstanding and condemnation of family, friends and even our fellow Christians. He calls us into a new beloved community which supports and enables us to leave aside our fears and have the courage to stand firm.
‘We do not want to spend hours in police cells or have Injunctions served upon us or face the prospect of unlimited fines or have our assets seized or face six months or more in prison. But if this is what is asked of us, we are willing. In fact we are full of joy, because we are receiving so much more through doing our best to be faithful to what God is asking of us. By comparison, everything that is happening to us is of no importance at all.
Rev Mark Coleman, 62: ‘The job of government is to minister to the people.’
‘The job of government is to minister to the people, Minister is a word that Christians understand; it means to care for, to take responsibility and to act justly. Boris Johnson is not acting in a reasonable manner, he is not keeping the people safe, he’s not acting on the evidence. He is betraying his country.’
Ben Buse, 26: ‘There is widespread agreement that insulation and retrofit are necessary.’
‘Faced with 8500 people dying from cold homes this winter, faced with gaping holes in government carbon plans and the implications for other nations at COP26, I’m joining others and returning to the motorways. I do this to demand action now. The government plans are found wanting by the climate change committee and industrial experts. We cannot wait to the next election, this is not a party political issue we need to insulate and retrofit homes now to achieve the carbon reduction pathway and not jeopardize the future of the country and world, with the damaging floods and heat already observed and much more set entrain. I resume protesting believing rapid implementation is essential, aware of the daunting potential consequences of repeatedly breaking the high court injunction, and hope people will join us in demanding adequate government action on insulation and low carbon homes at COP26.
‘There seems widespread agreement the demands of insulation and retrofit are necessary and government plans inadequate, the urgency is clear from carbon budgets, and to avoid unnecessary deaths, the only question remaining is are we, ordinary people, prepared to demand action now? As we protest, aware of the consequences and possible failure, I ask people to join us in demanding government action in a multitude of ways, and as a Christian I ask the church and other faiths to join us in trying to learn the ways of justice and love in action.’
Our earlier blogs on Insulate Britain: