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General Synod is tasked to debate investment in fossil fuels

Posted in: News
Date posted: 4 July 2013

Press release, 4 July 2013: The Diocese of Southwark passed a resolution yesterday (3 July 2013) calling on the General Synod of the Church of England to consider disinvestment from fossil fuels.

Welcoming the resolution Mark Letcher of Operation Noah said, ‘We are delighted that Southwark has passed this resolution. The Church must be consistent in word and deed. Global reserves of fossil fuels far exceed that which can be burned without triggering catastrophic damage to the climate system. Yet companies such as BP and Shell continue to invest billions in the development of new reserves of fossil fuels in the sure knowledge that these will push us far beyond the 2 degree C warming threshold.’

The resolution, proposed by Canon Giles Goddard, responds to calls for the Church of England to disinvest completely on ethical grounds from companies extracting fossil fuels, and to develop a climate friendly investment portfolio.

The resolution and background document draws attention to a proposal in the Church of England’s seven-year plan on climate change and the environment that the Church disinvest from fossil fuels by 2020. This proposal will now go forward for debate at the General Synod of the Church of England.

At the Southwark Diocese Synod yesterday April Alexander – on behalf of the Church Commissioners – revealed that the Church of England has reduced its investments in oil and gas by 62% on financial rather than ethical grounds over the past three years. This is part of a strategy to move funds from volatile holdings into more stable investments.

Meanwhile the Church of England is seeking to invest in less damaging alternatives to oil and gas, such as those offered by Generation Investment Management LLP, founded by Al Gore and David Blood in which the Church is reported to have invested £230 million.

Factory Pollution

Mark Letcher added, ‘A growing number of financial institutions are demonstrating that it is possible to make a profit while avoiding the fossil fuel sector.’

Later this year Operation Noah will launch a national campaign calling on UK Churches to disinvest from the fossil fuel sector.

Notes to editors

[1] The motion passed by the Southwark Diocesan Synod calls on General Synod to ‘request the National Investment Bodies to ensure that their new investment policy (including the option of disinvestment) is aligned with the theological, moral and social priorities of the Church, which find expression in the report Sharing God’s Planet, Shrinking the Footprint Campaign and in the report Church and Earth’.

[2] Church and Earth is the title of the Church of England’s seven-year plan on climate change and the environment published in 2009. The plan calls on the Church of England to develop a sustainable investment policy ‘working by 2020 towards disinvestment from fossil fuel extraction and supply companies and towards a portfolio that is carbon-neutral, whilst offering maximal return for minimal, environmental and social impacts’.

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