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Methodists fail to respond to grassroots call for fossil fuel disinvestment

Posted in: News
Date posted: 3 July 2014

Press release, 3 July 2014: The Methodist Conference has opted to ‘review’ its investments in fossil fuels. Operation Noah welcomes this recognition of the issues but, like grassroots Methodists who were asking the Conference to go much further, believes it must move rapidly to disinvest from fossil fuels.

This year’s Methodist Conference received an unprecedented six memorials (resolutions) about investment in fossil fuels from local Circuits or Districts, four of which called for disinvestment.

Despite this unprecedented pressure from local churches, the Methodist Conference has announced only that it will review its policy, with no decision for at least 12 months. This was announced at the presentation by the Church’s Joint Advisory Committee on Ethical Investment (JACEI) of its report ‘Fossil Fuels and the Future’. The Methodist Church has investments in fossil fuel companies worth £58 million (2012 figures).

This decision comes at a time when a growing number of Churches, including Quakers in Britain, have elected to sell their shares in fossil fuel companies. Christian leaders around the world are calling for the Churches to disinvest from fossil fuels. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for an anti-apartheid style boycott of the fossil fuel industry, and top UN official Christiana Figueres has urged religious leaders to pull their investments out of fossil fuel companies and to encourage their followers to do so as well.

The UK-­based Christian climate change charity Operation Noah launched its Bright Now campaign for Church disinvestment in September 2013.
Mark Letcher, Vice­‐Chair of Operation Noah said, ‘Whilst I welcome the decision to review fossil fuel investments, I am disappointed that the Methodist Church has not decided to grasp the nettle and begin disinvesting from this sector, particularly coal, right away, despite strong calls from its own members.

‘Multimillion pound investments in companies determined to develop new reserves of coal, oil and gas are incompatible with policies to prevent uncontrolled global warming – facts that are recognised by a growing number of Churches in the UK and abroad.’

Bill McKibben, co-­founder of 350.org and a Methodist, said, ‘I’m confident it’s only a matter of time before the Methodists are in the forefront of this campaign. But since Creation already groans under the weight of our carbon emissions, I hope this time is short indeed.’

Note: ‘Memorials’ (resolutions) to Conference are the result of votes on the issue by local Circuits or Districts. The four memorials calling for disinvestment from fossil fuel companies were ‘declined’. Memorials on fossil fuel disinvestment were presented by the following areas:
– The West London Mission Circuit Meeting
– The Stratford and Evesham Circuit Meeting
– The Bradford North Circuit Meeting
– The Leicester (North) Circuit Meeting
– The Bristol District Synod
– The Lancashire District Synod

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