Climate choir occupy parliament over Tories’ Rosebank approval

  • Post last modified:March 8, 2024
  • Reading time:10 mins read

Over 150 Climate Choir singers protested at parliament over the Rosebank North Sea oil field licensing on Thursday 7 March. They did so in style: occupying the Palace of Westminster while serenading onlookers – including MPs and a certain former Labour leader

The Climate Choir: hallelujah for the activists

MPs and visitors to parliament and the Palace of Westminster were given a powerful and beautiful reworking of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. The UK Climate Choir movement took over St Stephen’s Hall in a peaceful and dramatic singing protest. It was against the government’s decision to allow drilling of the massive Rosebank oil field:

A certain former Labour Party leader was impressed:

The choir also performed and protested outside:

climate choir outside parliament protesting over rosebank

Stop Rosebank

Rosebank is the biggest undeveloped oil and gas field in the North Sea. The government’s decision to approve drilling has been condemned by environmental campaigners, celebrities and people from all walks of life and from across the political spectrum, from the Women’s Institute to Chris Skidmore whose resignation as Conservative MP for Kingswood in South Gloucestershire led to a by-election win for Labour.

According to the World Bank, burning Rosebank’s oil and gas would create more CO2 than the combined emissions of 28 low-income countries in the world, home to 700 million people:

The government admits that what Rosebank produces will be sold at world market prices. So, while UK taxpayers would carry almost all the costs of developing Rosebank, overseas oil companies will take the profits. The project will not cut energy prices for UK consumers.

Kate Honey, a composer whose work has been performed internationally, has rewritten Handel’s lyrics and led the choir with a call to politicians to Stop Rosebank. They said:

The new lyrics, which we hope Handel would have approved of, are a creative, urgent and peaceful call on politicians to ‘Stop Rosebank’.

Rosebank is a pretty name for a dirty business. It will contribute to destroying the climate but will not lower our bills. The soaring cost of fossil fuels is the cause of much of the current cost-of-living crisis and people – from UK farmers to its firefighters – are now awake to what is being done to our planet by profiteering oil and gas companies.

People want a reliable, affordable energy supply that doesn’t put the planet at risk.

We have brought choirs from all over the country to send a simple message to politicians ‘Stop Rosebank Now: renewables are cleaner, safer and cheaper’.

The Climate Choir: taking on the corporate polluters

The Climate Choir Movement, founded in Bristol in the Autumn of 2022, uses voices in peaceful and creative protests against corporations who are contributing to the climate emergency.

The choir has performed inside museums and corporate AGMs, outside airports and investment companies, outside courts and cathedrals and, most recently, processing through the financial heart of the city of London.

The Climate Choir Movement has grown rapidly and now boasts some 700 singers in 12 participating choirs in Bath, Bristol, Ballycastle, Forest of Dean, Guildford, London, Oxford, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Sheffield, Southampton, and Swansea:

climate choir in parliament protesting over Rosebank

Jo Flanagan, co-founder of the Climate Choir Movement, added:

Today we are singing the truth to those in power. For the first time on record, global warming has exceeded temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius over a 12-month period. This is a dire warning to humanity — a warning that politicians still do not seem to listen to.

The Conservative government has approved Rosebank knowing full well that more oil and gas will fuel the climate crisis while doing nothing to bring down UK energy bills as the public face an unprecedented cost of living crisis. And now Labour has dropped large parts of its green investment pledge. Across the political spectrum, our leaders are spectacularly failing in taking this crisis seriously.

So in this election year we will hold all our politicians accountable and push for stronger climate targets. We need clear and ambitious policies and large-scale investment in renewable energy which confine fossil fuel to the dustbin for ever.

That’s why we’re taking this harmonious approach, singing to our politicians to cancel new oil and gas drilling and put into place an emergency plan to build and unlock genuine clean power that is less expensive for consumers.

Featured image and additional images via Andrea Domeniconi and David Mathias

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