Former Archbishop of Canterbury, 60+ bishops and 500+ church leaders write to PM and Chancellor calling for renewables push


21 March 2022

  • Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and 67 other Anglican and Catholic bishops sign an open letter to the Government, pushing back on more fossil fuels.
  • Church leaders from around the UK are calling for a windfall tax on fossil fuel companies to tackle the cost of living crisis and for energy efficiency measures to reduce heating bills.

Ahead of the Government’s Spring Statement and energy security strategy, more than 500 UK church leaders have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling on them to tackle the climate emergency, address the cost of living crisis and stop all new fossil fuel developments, as the International Energy Agency says we must do in order to limit global heating to 1.5C. 

The letter, signed by 68 Anglican and Catholic bishops, including former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, says: ‘We call on you to use the Spring Statement to provide financial and fiscal support for renewable energy and energy efficiency, especially solar and wind energy and the retrofitting of homes and other buildings across the UK. These measures would reduce heating bills, decrease carbon emissions and increase our energy security.’

Church leaders are urging the Government to implement a windfall tax on fossil fuel companies in order to address the cost of living crisis and to stop all new oil and gas developments. They write: ‘The Spring Statement must include no support for new oil and gas developments. The International Energy Agency has stated that there can be no new fossil fuel developments if we are to limit global heating to 1.5°C. New oil and gas production will not deliver lower energy bills for families facing fuel poverty and will have no impact on energy supply for years.’

‘We urge you to increase support for vulnerable households across the UK facing a cost of living crisis as a result of increasing food and energy prices, through measures including a windfall tax on oil and gas companies.’

Other signatories to the letter include the leaders of the Church in Wales (Most Revd Andrew John, Archbishop of Wales and Bishop of Bangor) and the Scottish Episcopal Church (Most Revd Mark Strange, Primus and Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness), the lead environmental bishops for the Church of England (Rt Rev Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich), the Catholic Church in England and Wales (Rt Revd John Arnold, Bishop of Salford) and the Catholic Church in Scotland (Most Revd William Nolan, Archbishop of Glasgow). Church leaders from the Methodist Church, the Church of Scotland, the United Reformed Church, the Baptist Union, the Quakers, the Presbyterian Church in Wales and the Jesuits in Britain have also signed the letter.

The open letter to the Prime Minister and Chancellor also notes that many churches have set a 2030 target for reducing emissions to net zero, writing that churches are ‘taking action to decarbonise our buildings, including through the installation of solar panels, heat pumps and other energy efficiency measures. More than 2,000 churches across the UK participated in Climate Sunday ahead of COP26 and called on the UK Government to unleash a clean energy revolution and limit global heating to 1.5°C.’ 

Supporting the open letter from church leaders are a number of charities, including Operation Noah, Christian Aid, CAFOD, A Rocha and Tearfund.

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