Revd Mark Coleman writes on why he has committed to Just Stop Oil

Why have I committed to Just Stop Oil ? Why would you not support the demand that the UK government immediately halts all future licensing and consents for the exploration, development and production of fossil fuels in the UK ?  It’s slapping us in the face: oil is killing people now, fuelling war and genocide. We are in a crisis that is to do with the very existence of all that we hold dear. So there has to be an emergency response, paid for by the fossil fuel companies and the very rich. The costs of change should not be laid on the backs of poor, ordinary people. The demands of Just Stop Oil are modest and reasonable.

We know the situation we are in. Sir David King tells us that what we do in the next three or four years will determine the future of Humanity. Fatih Birol tells us that if governments are serious about the climate crisis there must be no new investments in oil, gas and coal. It’s not rocket science, it’s obvious. We just have to stop oil (and coal and gas too.) 

What do we, who try hard to love God and love our neighbour, do at this moment in history ? We want change, know that the government must act, but see precious little sign of it. We cannot keep doing what we did before and expect a new result. 

This hit me when I went up to Glasgow for COP26. Did I really think it was going to make any difference me being there ? Don’t get me wrong, I was strengthened by the fellowship of others in Christian Climate Action and XR but the fossil fuel lobbyists didn’t even pause when they heard Mark Coleman was in town ! We have done much marching and vigiling, but still the emissions go up. 

Many of us know how a letter from the court dropping through the letterbox can frighten. When you are sitting on a road, the sound of a siren can make your bowels do a somersault. But worse still would be knowing that we didn’t do all we could to stop what Carmody Grey so simply and terrifyingly described as our collective walk over the cliff. That’s what is happening, and if anything we are speeding up. The church is largely silent, still invested in oil, and not holding in prayerful attention the magnitude of suffering that is and is to come. But we can act, because we know that nothing can separate us from the love of God. We need not fear the court. 

I thank God for the love and encouragement of those who give of themselves in service of life. I am blessed to meet such people. They recall me to my vocation to serve all that is about life in all its fullness. Last month I sat on a road for a few hours with Extinction Rebellion Huddersfield to stop  the distribution of that deadly poison paraquat. Many of us will be doing a similar thing again in support of the demands of Just Stop Oil. We are those who choose life, in the face of so much death. It’s not about which T-shirt you wear, or flag you fly, it’s about a no-brainer achievable demand which we can unite around in the Just Stop Oil Coalition.

We know that love can change the world. Over the next few weeks I intend to be disrupting a part of the oil industry. I really don’t want to do this ! I have Parkinson’s and it makes some things harder for me. But I do not want to go to my grave knowing that I could have done more. We do not have to walk off the cliff. Please do not leave it to me and a few others. If we are to succeed it will need many to hear His call to leave our nets for a while, to come together in His love, in civil disobedience. We can stop oil.

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