This weekend, the former Archbishop of York tried to deliver an open letter to petrol giant Shell. But security staff at their London headquarters refused him entry and later police were called to intervene. Read the full text below
When Lord John Sentamu tried to deliver a letter to Shell’s chief executive, he was not expecting to be refused entry to their building. The retired archbishop, now a peer in the House of Lords, was eventually forced to leave his missive in front of the company’s revolving doors.
The letter, signed by the leaders of several Christian charities, called on the oil company to stop all new fossil fuel exploration and extraction, and was delivered as part of the The Big One climate change protest that took place in London this past weekend
Lord Sentamu criticised “the sheer, sheer arrogance of Shell” in their heavy-handed response. “We want simply to deliver a letter. We’re coming in peace,” he said. “They think they are the masters of the universe. I’m afraid, they have got to change their ways.”
Read the full text below:
To: Wael Sawan Chief Executive Officer, Shell plc c/o Shell Centre, York Road London, SE1 7NA
21 April 2023
Dear Mr. Sawan,
“The obvious is that which is never seen
Until someone expresses it simply.”
“Fossil fuels are a dead end — for our planet, for humanity and for economies.” António Guterres
The science is clear. Summarising a recent IPCC report, the head of the UN said we are “firmly on track toward an unlivable world”. The International Energy Agency’s 1.5°C report states that, from December 2021, any new fossil fuel extraction project is inconsistent with a 1.5°C pathway.
Church leaders are speaking out. Speaking in support of the climate protest taking place this weekend, Lord Sentamu said: “Climate change is the greatest insidious and brutal indiscriminate force of our time. The people suffering the most have done the least to cause it. That is why continuing to search for new sources of fossil fuels, despite explicit warnings against this from the International Energy Agency, is such an offence against humanity.”
As representatives from many Christian organisations, we therefore call on Shell to stop all new fossil fuel exploration and extraction.
Your own reports show that you know there is an urgent need to change the world’s energy system. This clearly ranks of a higher order of importance than whether or not decreasing the sales of your oil and gas products will affect your company’s finances and shareholder value.
It is not just up to governments to act. With its huge resources of finance and expertise, Shell does have the ability to play an important role in the energy transition by switching to an energy company rather than an oil company and working with customers to reduce their emissions.
We invite you to meet with representatives of the organisations signing this letter to discuss your responsibilities at this crucial time.
But most importantly of all, we call on Shell to stop all new fossil fuel exploration and extraction immediately. Micah 6:8 from the Bible calls us to “Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” We ask you to humbly reflect on the need for your company to now rapidly change course, in order for there to be justice and mercy, and life at all, for all future generations.
Be assured of our prayers for wisdom, courage and strength as you consider your response. Please look into the eyes of a child that you love, as you do.
We look forward to hearing from you and would be very happy to meet with you to discuss this.
Yours in faith,
Barbara Echlin, Vice Chair, Green Christian
Melanie Nazareth, Christian Climate Action
Nicky Bull, Vice Chair, Operation Noah
Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy, CAFOD
Nigel Harris, CEO, Tearfund
Osai Ojigho, Director of Policy, Public affairs and Campaigns, Christian Aid
Andy Atkins, CEO, A Rocha UK