Shell and BP crowned ‘Architects of the climate emergency’

Jesuit Missions took part in a stunt that declared oil and gas companies Shell and BP as ‘Architects of the Climate Emergency’.

On Friday (September 15), we joined Cafod, Faith For The Climate and Christian Climate Action outside Shell and BP’s headquarters in London to unveil the mock awards, which we attempted to hand over to the companies.

Why we took part

Throughout this month we have been running our Season of Creation Campaign based on the theme of ‘Let Justice and Peace Flow’. We believe it is important to not only focus on individual social action but also political action.

The Pope encourages us to Care for our Common Home, and Micah 6:8 asks us ‘to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’.

Therefore, we took to the streets to encourage Shell and BP to take responsibility for their impact on the environment, highlight the damage fossil fuels do ahead of the UN ‘Climate Ambition Summit’ (18-22 September), and raise awareness of the role some companies have in causing climate change.

Impact of fossil fuels and climate change

Fossil Fuels are the biggest cause of climate change1, which is causing global warming, increased natural disasters, food insecurity and pushing vulnerable people further into poverty. Many of Jesuit Missions’ partners across the world are being impacted by climate change – this is an injustice.

We have been warned by international bodies and individuals, such as the UN Secretary-General, the International Energy Agency and Pope Francis, that new fossil fuel projects are incompatible with efforts to keep global temperature increases below the catastrophic 1.5C level.2

However, Shell and BP, two of the biggest companies producing fossil fuels, are still investing billions of pounds into new oil and gas projects, with little progress shown that there will be a significant move towards fair, renewable energy.

Earlier this year, BP backtracked on its climate goals at the same time as announcing profits had more than doubled to $28 billion (£23 billion) following a sharp increase in gas prices linked to the War in Ukraine.3

Similarly, Shell brought in annual profits of $40 billion (£32.3 billion) in 2022, but invested only $3.5 billion (£2.8 billion) in renewable energy.4

Shell and BP also continue to unjustly profit from fossil fuels whilst individuals are suffering from a cost of living crisis, impacted by rising energy costs.5

Fossil fuel demands

Our stunt comes together with 650+ actions across the world for a ‘Global Flight To End Fossil Fuels’ ahead of the UN ‘Climate Ambition Summit’ meeting on the 20th of September. For the UN, we demand:

  1. Stop licensing and permitting new fossil fuel development.
  2. Initiate a fast and fair global phase-out of fossil fuels. To be fair, wealthy fossil fuel-producing countries must move fastest to revoke permits for and retire polluting infrastructure while fully funding a just transition to renewable energy.

What we said

“I have witnessed the devastating impact climate change is having on the poorest people in countries like Madagascar and South Sudan. It is grossly unjust that these people should suffer most when they have done the least to cause it.

“Meanwhile fossil fuel companies like Shell and BP continue to contribute to climate change whilst making extortionate profits.

“With COP 28 looming, it is high time that these companies met their commitments to end the use of fossil fuels and, instead of making vast profits, prioritise the future of the planet and its people.”

Paul Chitnis, Director of Jesuit Missions

Prayer and reflection

Fr Paul Nicholson shared a prayer to encourage us in our action. With credit to Rt Revd Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby, this is shared below:

Eternal God,
whose Spirit moved over the face of the deep bringing forth light and life;
by that same Spirit, renew your creation, and restore your image in your people.
Turn us from careless tenants to faithful stewards,
that your threefold blessing of clean air, pure water and rich earth
may be the inheritance of everything that has the breath of life
and one generation may proclaim to another the wonder of your works;
through Jesus Christ, your living Word,
in whom the fullness of your glory is revealed.

By Rebecca Reece
  1. Action Pack – Global Fight to End Fossil Fuels | September Mobilisations – Google Docs ↩︎
  2. Article informed from CAFOD and Global End to Fossil Fuels ↩︎
  3. BP scales back climate goals as profits more than double to £23bn | BP | The Guardian↩︎
  4. Calls for bigger windfall tax after Shell makes ‘obscene’ $40bn profit | Shell | The Guardian↩︎
  5. You can find BP and Shell’s sustainability webpages at these links ↩︎

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