London, Oct 18 (IANS): In the run-up to the UN climate change summit named COP26, five Christians dressed as penitents whilst a member of the clergy poured fake oil over them outside the Lambeth Palace in protest at the Church of England's continued investments in fossil fuel industries.
Three of the 'penitents' then glued themselves to the pavement.
Eight people on Sunday staged a 'die-in' outside the Palace, which involved some of them lying on the ground in protest while others held banners protesting the Church's engagement with the fossil fuel industry.
Ahead of the COP26 in Glasgow, that the UK is hosting, the activists are demanding that the church immediately announces its intention to divest from fossil fuel companies and that they complete divestment by December 31, 2021.
They are also asking the church to urgently speak out for immediate action to prevent irreversible climate impacts and ensure a liveable planet for all of god's creation.
It is estimated that the Church of England dioceses, Church Commissioners and Pensions Board currently hold investments worth 70 million in fossil fuel companies. To date, just four out of 42 dioceses have announced divestment.
Through a statement read out during the action, those present said: "It is our firm conviction that large fossil fuel corporations are incapable of making 'meaningful sacrifices', and it is they and political parties across the globe who are heavily influenced, often funded by them, who hold the future of our planet in the balance.
"We therefore urge the Archbishop to use his influence to announce the immediate divestment from fossil fuels. We also call upon him to urge world leaders meeting at COP26 in two weeks' time to take bold, unpopular decisions and actions to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement."
In a letter handed to Justin Welby as part of the action, Val King wrote: "Urgent and radical action is required --we cannot afford to leave the future of god's creation to market forces and to rely on fossil fuel companies to provide the solution to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.
"The recent IPCC report makes the case for immediate action crystal clear, as is the warning from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres: 'There is no time for delay and no room for excuses. This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet. If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe."
The protest follows an action at St Paul's Cathedral in August which led to 13 arrests. Immediately after Communion at a Eucharist service protestors processed to the altar and faced the congregation holding banners with the words: 'No Faith in Fossil Fuels' and 'Churches Divest Now'.
Since 2013, most major Christian denominations have made a commitment to divest from fossil fuels. The Church of England, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Catholic Church are the only major denominations still investing in fossil fuels. Worldwide, more than 400 religious organisations have made divestment commitments in recent years.
In just a few weeks' time, world leaders will meet in Glasgow at the COP26 conference to discuss the climate crisis.