Bishops call for government funding for renewable energy

Protesters in London are trying to raise awareness of the climate crisis, especially as it relates to water and indigenous communities.

Andrea Domeniconi/Alamy

Nine Catholic bishops and the Jesuit provincial were among 500 signatories to a letter to the Prime Minister from church and clergy leaders demanding “global leadership on the climate crisis”.

The letter calls on the government “to provide financial and fiscal support for renewable energy and energy efficiency”. It also calls for support for vulnerable households affected by rising prices “through measures including an exceptional tax on oil and gas companies”.

The Catholic Archbishops of Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow signed the letter, as well as the Bishop of Salford, John Arnold, environmental officer for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Other signatories include Fr Damien Howard SJ, the Jesuit Provincial of Great Britain, Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and sixty other Catholic and Anglican bishops, as well as heads of religious orders and leaders of nonconformist churches.

They are urging the government to use its spring statement to fund solar and wind power and home renovations to improve insulation, rather than supporting new oil and gas developments.

“These measures would reduce heating bills, decrease carbon emissions and increase our energy security,” the letter states.

It also highlights the commitment of many churches to decarbonize their buildings and reach net zero by 2030, “including through the installation of solar panels, heat pumps and other energy efficiency measures.” The signatories say the church’s £20bn of assets under management should play a part in wider investment in the environment sector.

“By working with other investors, churches can have a significant impact in addressing the climate crisis and supporting a just and rapid transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy.”

Commenting on the letter, Christine Allen, Director of Cafod, said: “It has never been clearer, or more urgent, that we need a just transition to a low carbon economy. For the world’s poor, access to energy is a matter of survival.

However, many charities expressed disappointment with the spring statement released on March 23, describing it as a “missed opportunity”.

“The government continues to squander opportunities to lead the country out of the pandemic into a fairer and fairer future,” the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul said.

Christians Against Poverty, the debt advice charity, said the statement offered “very little to help the most vulnerable and to provide long-term financial security for those on the lowest incomes”.

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