The chief Catholic bishop on climate matters has denounced Rishi Sunak's decision to grant new North Sea oil licenses as "utterly reckless." He contends that issuing such authorisations is in "stark contrast to any understanding of our environmental needs."
He made the remarks as world leaders, including the Prime Minister, attend the annual COP28 climate summit in Dubai.
Bishop Arnold said: “The North Sea licences stand in stark contrast to any understanding of our environmental needs. It seems to me utterly reckless that we’d be promoting fossil fuels at the very time when we should be radically reducing them.”
In the recent King's Speech, Rishi Sunak included legislation facilitating early bids for North Sea oil and gas licenses.
Bishop John, who leads the diocese of Salford, additionally voiced concerns about the potential influence of oil and gas lobbyists on resolutions at COP28, especially given that it is being held in a major oil-producing nation.
He also spearheads the church’s Guardians of Creation, a strategy outlining how the church might achieve net zero carbon emissions, considering its historical investments in oil and gas companies.
Bishop John continued: “We tried to begin with to negotiate with some fossil fuel companies and got various promises about how they were developing different forms of energy. But we just found that they weren’t meeting their promises. So many dioceses are now divesting from those investments.”
Earlier this year, Pope Francis released a document challenging world leaders to commit to targets to curb global warming. Although he was scheduled to attend the summit in Dubai, a lung inflammation forced him to remain in the Vatican.