A former Archbishop of Canterbury has urged the Government to insulate more homes and take “a more edgy role internationally” to tackle the climate crisis.

Dr Rowan Williams made the remarks ahead of attending a “world-first” inter-faith Climate Repentance Ceremony in London on Sunday.

He said he was “disappointed” with the Prime Minister’s, later reversed, decision not to attend the Cop27 climate summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

He also expressed “a lot of sympathy” with the argument that “shock tactics” used by climate protest groups such as Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion can “break through to people”.

Just Stop Oil protests
An activist on a overhead gantry on the M25 (Just Stop Oil)

Asked if the UK Government is doing enough to get a grip of the climate emergency, he told the PA news agency: “Big question that, I think the answer is probably no.

“I would like to see them doing more, I would like to see them pushing ahead a bit further with insulation schemes for example and also playing, I think, a slightly more edgy role internationally.”

Senior faith leaders from countries including Egypt, USA, Israel, India, Spain and the UK will gather at the base of Parliament Hill in Hampstead, north-west London, for the event, organised by the Elijah Interfaith Institute, on Sunday.

Similar ceremonies are set to happen in Sharm El-Sheikh and other locations around the world.

Organisers say it is the first multi-faith ceremony to “seek forgiveness for climate sins” and hope it will “inspire humility and action” during Cop27, which ends on November 18.

The faith leaders will climb the hill together, clutching scrolls bearing the “Ten Principles for Climate Repentance” before proclaiming them.

This is a nod to the 10 commandments which in the Bible God reveals to Moses on Mount Sinai, a mountain on the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt about 200km away from the Cop27 conference.

The leaders will then take part in a two-hour multi-faith Climate Repentance Ceremony at a synagogue in north London.

Dr Williams urged people to join them, on behalf of humanity, in repenting for “an attitude of greed, irresponsibility and chronic short-term vision to the world we share”.

On calls for developed nations to make “loss and damage” payments to developing countries hit by the climate crisis, he said: “On reparations, my sympathies are with those who are calling for that because we’re looking largely at countries whose economy and environment have been really determined for two or three hundred years by the agenda of wealthier western nations.”

Asked if disruptive protests by groups such as Just Stop Oil are justifiable, he said: “Mixed feelings to be honest, tactically speaking I do take the point some people are really, seriously alienated by actions like this especially if they’ve been sitting on the M25 for five hours or whatever it might be.

“But at the same time I’ve got a lot of sympathy with the idea that some kinds of shock tactics do break through to people and my own question is always: how far can you go with shock tactics before you really lose the audience?

“I think I’d echo what I think (the columnist) Polly Toynbee said in The Guardian the other day, if you’re really angry and put off by the actions of Just Stop Oil protesters, what exactly are you doing, what are you going to do to turn all this around?”

The Government has been approached for comment.