In October 2016 members of Grandparents for a Safe Earth joined with other groups in Bristol to publicise, and protest against, Barclays Bank’s investments in fracking instead of directing this funding to renewable energy and thus contributing to keeping fossil-fuels in the ground.
Below is a 3-minute YouTube video about this.
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On 31st May 2016, members of GFASE staged demonstrations both at Hammersmith Magistrate’s Court, London, and at the headquarters of the Department of Energy and Climate Change. This was in support of one of our members who was being prosecuted that day for his action with Christian Climate Action on 30th November 2015. (Details and pictures of that action can be seen under “Our Actions”). Although GFASE is a non-sectarian and non-party-political organisation, we will sometimes support actions by other groups where one or more of our members takes part and the action confirms to our aims.
At Hammersmith Magistrate’s Court
A video of the actions on 31st May can be seen on this link http://xp-vhve07 a/ If you have trouble accessing via this link, just type Grandparents for a Safe Earth into the YouTube.com search box and scroll down until you find it.
At the DECC
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Grandparents for a Safe Earth is a secular and non-party-political organisation which aims to be as inclusive as possible. Our members include different faiths and ideologies. We are willing to put on our website actions by a different group if one or more of our members have taken part. We do so today with a report of this action by five members of Christian Climate Action, one of whom is GfaSE member Phil Kingston (Second from the left in this photo).
Five members of Christian Climate Action, Ruth Jarman, Westley Ingrams, Helen Whithall, Martin Newell and Phil Kingston, whitewashed the wall of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in London on Monday 30th November and wrote Dept for Extreme Climate Change in large black letters. They wanted to make a stand against the death and destruction that is being aided by the policies of the Dept. of Energy and Climate Change. ”It speaks fine words about the seriousness of climate change, but its current policies are undermining global efforts to confront this threat, most importantly at the meeting of world leaders at the Paris Summit this week. E.g. it has excluded new onshore wind farms from a subsidy scheme a year earlier than planned; brought in budget changes which reduced the incentive to buy low-emission vehicles; and scrapped the policy for new homes to be carbon neutral”.
The five, acting on the first day of the Climate Summit in Paris, arrived at the DECC wearing white paint suits with ‘DECC’ on them. They delivered a letter to Amber Rudd, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, whitewashed part of the wall, re-branded it as the ‘Dept for Extreme Climate Change’ and then knelt around a skeleton in a ‘whitewashed tomb’ and prayed until they were arrested.
They were charged with criminal damage and bailed to appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on 15th December, when they pleaded not guilty and will stand trial at Hammersmith Magistrates Court on 31st May.
There is a video of this action at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCqASCdcrQk
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Silent Procession in Bristol on 25/07/15 for people killed by Climate Change
This Silent Procession in Bristol city centre to remember people killed by Climate Change was a moving experience for those who took part and for many observers. Organised by Grandparents for a Safe Earth (https://network23.org/gfase/ ) participants walked in solidarity with the communities across the world most affected by Climate Change. They linked deaths from extreme weather to the continuing emissions of Carbon Dioxide from the human use of fossil-fuels and the massive worldwide investments in fossil-fuels by most of the UK banks.
People brought flowers and carried a coffin to remember those who have died. They placed the flowers outside each city centre bank which makes such investments and took a letter into each bank to be sent on to the bank’s Chief Executive Officer, asking for a rapid reduction in fossil-fuel investments and an equally rapid and extensive investment in the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Our letter also asked if the bank is willing to sign the BankTrack Pledge http://www.banktrack.org/show/news/banktrack_launches_paris_pledge_campaign which calls upon banks to follow the example of Bank of America and Credit Agricole in making commitments to pull out of the coal mining sector before the Paris UN Meeting in November. (If all of the coal plants proposed worldwide are built, the outcome will be disastrous because it will be impossible to keep the increase in temperature below the 2 degree Centigrade).
Phil Kingston, a member of Grandparents for a Safe Earth, welcomed people to the procession, saying ‘’We grandparents and elders acknowledge our own part in this destructive process and are more and more committing ourselves to keep fossil-fuels in the ground’’.
He described how climate change is mostly affecting countries and communities where poverty is widespread. ‘’Many of their populations are also on the receiving end of severe austerity programmes. Some of you here today, perhaps many of you, are experiencing the worst effects of the Government’s austerity programme. We are concerned that the Government is by-passing the responsibility of the banks in causing the economic crisis; and instead is placing much of the cost of solving it upon the most vulnerable people in our society. We particularly welcome you here: your experience can help us all to walk in a more meaningful solidarity than we might otherwise manage to do.’’
At the last bank, people lay on the ground to represent those who had been killed by climate change. This was a moving experience for passers-by, bringing home to them the reality of what is happening across the world, a reality which is predicted by the Royal Society and the US Academy of Sciences to become substantially worse unless there is an urgent and radical reduction in the use of fossil-fuels.
To view two YouTube videos of this action click on
Grandparents for a Safe Earth are attending as many hustings in Bristol and South Gloucestershire as they can in order to offer leaflets to people as they go in. Wherever possible we also ask a question about the marked absence of Climate Change from the political discourse in this election.
The leaflet is:
Grandparents for a Safe Earth
The current extremes of weather world-wide are caused by an increase in temperature above pre-industrial levels of 0.8 of a degree Centigrade. Who says so? The Royal Society and the US Academy of Sciences, 2014. They add that if the current trajectory of CO2 Emissions continues, the average world temperature increase will be at least 4 times this.
This poses enormous dangers for our descendants. We are disturbed that the actions of Governments up to now have been totally inadequate to the seriousness and urgency of the task.
In this election, THE CLIMATE CHANGE ELEPHANT IS IN THE ROOM AND WE ARE HARDLY SEEING ITS SHADOW.
Why are the leaders of almost all political parties keeping this off the election agenda? Our descendants are far too important to allow this.
The question is:
We ask each of you why you think climate change is being given very low priority in this election? ( And please don’t respond in terms of what your party has done or is planning to do because that isn’t our question. What we want to know is why this subject is not being given anything like the priority which our descendants deserve).
(A useful preamble to asking this question is to say: ‘The most respected scientific institutions in Britain and the United States have confirmed that Climate Change is already happening and is primarily caused by fossil fuel emissions. They have outlined the enormous dangers for our children unless much more effective action is taken. What we notice in this election is that the leaders of almost all political parties are not giving this anything like the priority which our descendants deserve. We are deeply disturbed by that.’
(If you are a grandparent or elder and would like to use this information as it is, please do so. If you are not in that category, please amend the information in an appropriate way.)
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Huge Investments by some UK Banks in Fossil Fuels are damaging Planet Earth.
A number of reputable scientists and economists including the former UK Government Chief Scientist Sir David King; Lord Stern, the author of the Stern Report on Climate Change; and staff at the Potsdam Institute, have expressed concern that the majority of the known reserves of fossil fuels will have to be left in the ground if the internationally agreed 2 degree C limit in temperature increase is to be honoured.
Instead of working to leave fossil fuels in the ground and massively to invest in renewables and energy efficiency, some of the large UK Banks appear to be placing their profits before our security with the outcome that the generations which follow us will inherit a seriously damaged Earth.
This conference was organised by a number of Christian groups in Bristol who are concerned about Climate Change. Phil Kingston, a member of Grandparents for a Safe Earth spoke about the work of the group and about another group – Christian Climate Action – which like GFASE is also willing to take nonviolent direct action when dialogue does not bear fruit.
The keynote speaker was Archbishop Rowan Williams who spoke about Climate Change : A Matter of Faith which can be accessed at YouTube under https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoCB9iBzaMI
Phil had an opportunity over coffee to tell Archbishop Rowan about both of these groups. When he asked if the Archbishop was a grandparent, his reply was ‘Not yet!’
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Many elders and grandparents are members of private Pension Funds. Concern is being expressed by climate scientists and economists about the fall in the value of shares in fossil-fuels because the majority of known reserves of these will have to be left in the ground if the Earth is to be kept within a relatively safe increase in temperature. A current campaign of Grandparents for a Safe Earth is to ask members of Pension Funds to write to the Chairperson of their fund’s Board about the likelyhood of these investments falling in value. Benefits of this kind of campaign can be seen at the website of Share Action http://shareaction.org/shell-recommends-its-shareholders-support-resolution-climate-change-risk
We are therefore engaging with people about this and asking if they will be willing to send the following letter to the Chairperson of the Board of their Fund:
Address and date Dear Investment of Pension Funds in Fossil Fuels. I am a pensioner of (Pension Fund name). You will be aware that a number of reputable scientists and economists including the former UK Government Chief Scientist Sir David King; Lord Stern, the author of the Stern Report on Climate Change; and staff at the Potsdam Institute, have expressed concern that the majority of the known reserves of fossil fuels will have to be left in the ground if the internationally agreed 2 degree C limit in temperature increase is to be honoured. A potential outcome of this is that investments in fossil fuels will fall in value. I write to ask if you will let me know the policy of the Board with regard to this information. Yours sincerely (Name)
NB We do not refer to the climate change dangers of fossil fuels in this letter for two reasons. One is that the primary legal responsibility of the Board of a Pension Fund is to make sound investments on behalf of its members. The other is that that is also likely to be the view of many members of the Fund. However, we give out this template letter in the context of information about Grandparents for a Safe Earth and our concerns about climate change, and encourage those who are willing to do so to respond to the chairperson’s reply with their own concerns.
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Bristol’s “Celebrating Age Festival” offers a wide range of information and activities for older people, and for the second year running we hosted a stall there. It included a video showing our July action at a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland, photographs of our grandchildren and of our actions, and leaflets about our work. It was an opportunity to engage with a range of ages and especially with grandparents and elders who are concerned about the kind of Earth which our descendants are heading towards.
The Lord Mayor of Bristol expressed his interest in what we are doing, and all of these conversations helped to spread the word and inject more sense of urgency into the actions which are essential if we are to offer a more sustainable life to those who follow us.
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On 3rd July, 2014, we went to the RBS branch in Whiteladies Road, Bristol, to ask for answers to questions we had already asked concerning RBS investments in fossil fuels, especially in coal & coal infrastructure. We had not received a satisfactory reply from RBS Head Office to our questions to date.
We wanted to share our concern with customers and staff about the latest forecast by The Royal Society and the US Academy of Sciences which showed a surpassing of a 3.5 degree centigrade increase in global temperatures above pre-industrial levels, while RBS was still continuing to invest in ecosystem-damaging fossil fuels.
Four of us entered the bank at 4.15pm, whilst another four remained outside distributing leaflets and discussing the issues with passers-by, customers and staff. Those of us based inside the bank were asked to leave, but we refused to go until we received answers to our questions.
The police were called and escorted two of us out of the bank, whilst the other two still refused to leave. The bank had by this time closed to the public and normal bank operations were curtailed. Eventually the remaining two were ejected by the police.
During the action, many passers-by, customers and staff were made aware of the publicly-owned bank’s continued investment in eco-system damaging fossil fuels.
We are a network of grandparents and elders who care deeply about the world our descendants will inherit. We want the Earth’s eco-systems to be kept as intact as possible, thus giving security and well-being to those who follow us.