This article was written by JustMoney Movement Communications and Campaigns Manager Bryn Lauder and originally published in the February 2023 edition of the Methodist Recorder.
In the month of February, Shell and BP announced a combined profit of over £50bn, with Shell raking in £32bn, their biggest profit in their 115 year history. The profits are grotesque, immoral and a slap in the face of the 3 million plus low-income households unable to keep their houses warm, the countless NHS staff and other key workers striking for a decent pay rise, as well as the tens of thousands of independent small businesses battling to survive amidst soaring costs.
At times, it’s easy to think the cost of living crisis is reaching all corners of society, but these announcements tell a very different story. In fact whilst the poor continue to get drastically poorer, big oil companies are laughing their way to the bank, profiteering from record oil and gas prices as a result the soaring energy costs crippling ordinary people across the UK. To add insult to injury, BP announced on the back of these profits that it would be scaling back its climate ambitions, cutting its emissions pledge and would instead plan a greater production of oil and gas over the next seven years compared with previous targets.
Last year, the Government was forced to introduce a one-off windfall tax on energy profits. But the windfall tax was far too little, far too late and came with ludicrous loopholes that actually encouraged new drilling for oil and gas. The Government must, in response to these obscene profits, increase the rate of the windfall tax to claw back more of these profits, as well as close loopholes used by oil and gas companies to reduce the tax they pay. But of course, these profits and the subsequent actions taken by BP also make plain that these are companies led by profit who cannot be trusted to deliver on the climate. This is a conclusion the Methodist Church reached in 2021 when it divested from fossil fuels, with David Palmer (CEO, Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church) highlighting ‘The pace of change across the oil and gas sector has been inadequate’, and sadly two years later, it remains so.
At the JustMoney Movement, we believe tax is a blessing not a burden, a way of showing love for neighbour, care for creation and contributing towards the common good. It would serve BP and Shell well to hear Paul’s encouragement to the Church in Corinth;
Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. 2 Corinthians 8;1-15