14 February 2024

Hundreds of Christians begin 240-hour climate change protest outside Parliament

14 February 2024

Hundreds of Christian climate activists have begun a 240-hour vigil of protest and prayer outside Parliament in a bid to fight for “climate justice”.

Protesters assembled in front of Carriage Gates, New Palace Yard, on Wednesday – the first of a 10-day occupation which will see activists swap in and out every few hours to ensure a round-the-clock presence.

They said they want “bold climate action” by the Government, including moving away from the use of oil and gas, reparation payments for damage caused by climate change in the Global South, and investment in green policies.

Ruth Jarman, information officer at Green Christian, said: “There’s a massive climate crisis that is putting all of God’s creation at risk and all our children’s futures at risk, in the Global South particularly.

“As Christians, the first thing you do when you have a problem is to pray and that’s what we’re doing.”

Ms Jarman said people of all faiths or none are welcome to participate.

The No Faith in Fossil Fuels Lent Vigil was organised by an alliance of Christian organisations, including Christian Climate Action, Green Christian, the Salvation Army and Christian Aid.

Wednesday was the first day of Lent, the Christian period of reflection and religious observance which lasts for 40 days.

The Bishop of Kingston, Martin Gainsborough, and the Bishop of Reading, Olivia Graham, were at the Westminster demonstration, while environmentalist and Green Christian patron Sir Jonathon Porritt attended an Ash Wednesday church service in Waterloo, which marked the beginning of the vigil.

David Coleman, a minister in the United Reformed Church and “eco-chaplain”, said the religious element of the protest was important.

He said: “Our scriptures and traditions are a spiritual response to threat, oppression and crisis.

“I think we’re building a sort of spiritual resilience.”

He and Ms Jarman said Labour’s environmental policies are better than the Conservatives’ but are still not enough.

“Doing better than really, really bad is just not good enough when we’re talking about something that is an existential crisis,” Ms Jarman said.

“Nothing is as important as this.”

Protesters can register for hourly slots during the day and seven-hour slots during the night, and will be collecting donations, raising awareness and praying.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox