Church urged to divest from all fossil fuel companies

CHRISTIAN AID is calling on Church investors to divest from all fossil fuel companies.

The charity’s callfollowed comments from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who opened the Stock Exchange on Monday.

In his address on climate change and responsible investment, Archbishop Justin Welby said that ‘as investors, the Church is aware of its responsibility to make sure that we manage things in a manner that is aligned with Christian values, witness and mission’.

“We recognise, however, that we cannot do this alone,” he said, explaining to the investors that ‘you are the people who can drive the transition’.

Christian Aid’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Christine Allen, commented:“The Archbishop of Canterbury is right to describe climate change as ‘a genuinely existential threat’ and call on the oil and gas majors to ‘step up that ambition’ today.

“I welcome the Church’s efforts to push companies towards ensuring their businesses are aligned with the targets of the Paris Agreement [on climate change].”

However, she said that ‘the reality is that oil and gas companies are moving much too slowly, and are even betting against the world taking decisive action to stop climate change’.

“People living on the front lines can no longer wait. Church investors need to send a stronger signal that they will no longer stand for the foot-dragging of the fossil fuel industry,” she said.

“Other churches, such as those of Ireland, Sweden and Southern Africa have made a stand and refused to profit from the suffering of the world’s poor.The Church of England is part of the global Anglican Communion, which is so often a beacon of love, community and hope.

“With brothers and sisters in some of the places most vulnerable to climate change, the time has come to demonstrate that the Church cares more about these people than profit.”

On Sunday, General Synod will debate an amendment from the Diocese of Oxford calling on Church investors to divest from fossil fuel companies that do not align their business plans with the targets of the Paris Agreement by 2020.

Ms Allen added: “The Church has so far taken an investor engagement approach to fossil fuel companies, yet this has had limited success. The time has come to be free of fossil fuel holdings as companies so fully invested in fossil fuel production are not making fundamental changes fast enough.

“The Church’s engagement efforts could be more fruitfully spent on those sectors that consume fossil fuels rather than produce them, in order to achieve the necessary change in behaviour and business models that will benefit those who face the daily reality of climate change.”