News and events

PRESS RELEASE: New report calls on Churches to urgently divest from fossil fuels

Posted in: News
Date posted: 6 May 2020

Wednesday 6 May 2020

Contact James Buchanan: 07801 570 653 / james.buchanan@operationnoah.org

Report available: https://bit.ly/2yviELm

Interviews available / Quote from Rt Revd Dr Rowan Williams below

A new report from Operation Noah, the Christian climate change charity, is calling on Churches in the UK to urgently divest from fossil fuels in response to the climate emergency.

The report, ‘Church investments in major oil companies: Paris compliant or Paris defiant?’, shows the gap between the business plans of major oil companies and the Paris Agreement targets, which commits to limit global average temperature increases to well below 2°C compared with pre-industrial levels, and aims for 1.5°C.

The report draws on research from a variety of key sources, including Carbon Tracker’s Breaking the Habit report and the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) 2020 State of Transition Report, both of which demonstrate that none of the major oil companies are aligned with the Paris Agreement targets.

The report is published as several major oil companies are set to hold their AGMs, including Shell (Tuesday 19 May), BP and ExxonMobil (Wednesday 27 May) and Total (Friday 29 May). It shows that Shell and BP intend to increase oil and gas production by 38% and 20% respectively between 2018 and 2030, when global carbon emissions must fall by 55% by 2030 in order to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5°C, according to the 2019 UN Emissions Gap report.

The report highlights that Shell and BP plan to spend huge sums on exploration and extraction of new reserves between now and 2030 ($149 billion and $71 billion respectively), when scientists are warning that the majority of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground.

The report also draws attention to the fact that BP and Shell, which spend most among the major oil companies on lobbying against climate action, belong to trade associations such as the American Petroleum Institute that have successfully lobbied for weaker environmental regulation during the Covid-19 crisis. The report strengthens the calls for bailouts to support workers, but not oil and gas corporations.

Several UK Churches have already completed the process of divestment from fossil fuels, including Quakers in Britain, the Church of Ireland and the United Reformed Church. In others, such as the Church of Scotland, the Church in Wales and the Scottish Episcopal Church, Church bodies have made divestment recommendations, which should be acted on as a matter of urgency. Two Catholic dioceses in England and Wales have so far divested from fossil fuels, and the report calls on the remaining dioceses to join them – and 150 other Catholic institutions around the world – in making divestment commitments.

The 2017 Methodist Conference called for the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church to divest from oil and gas companies whose business investment plans were not aligned with the Paris Agreement target of a global temperature rise well below 2°C by 2020. In light of the research outlined, the report calls on the Methodist Church to divest from all fossil fuel companies now.

The Church of England General Synod in July 2018 voted to begin divestment in 2020 from oil and gas companies that are ‘not taking seriously their responsibilities’ in the transition to a low-carbon economy, and complete divestment from those not on track to align with the Paris Agreement by 2023. The report argues that none of the major oil companies are taking their responsibilities seriously, and the divestment process must begin now.

James Buchanan, Operation Noah’s Bright Now Campaign Manager, said: ‘All major oil companies continue to spend huge sums on the exploration and extraction of new fossil fuel reserves, as well as lobbying against climate action. The evidence is overwhelming that none of these companies are ‘Paris compliant’. We strongly encourage Churches to demonstrate moral leadership at this key moment in history by divesting from fossil fuels and investing in the clean technologies of the future.’

Rt Revd Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, said: ‘The current health crisis has highlighted as never before the need for coherent international action in the face of global threat. Can we learn the lesson and apply it to the global threat of climate change? To do so means taking practical and effective steps to reduce our lethal dependence on fossil fuels, and this report challenges the Churches to take these steps as a matter of urgency.’

Ends

Contact James Buchanan: james.buchanan@operationnoah.org or 07801 570 653

Notes for editors:

1. Operation Noah is a Christian charity working with the Church to inspire action on climate change. It works with all Christian denominations. http://operationnoah.org/

2. The report can be downloaded at: https://brightnow.org.uk/resource/church-investments-in-oil-paris-compliant-or-paris-defiant/.

3. The Methodist Conference in June 2017 called for the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church to divest from oil and gas companies whose business investment plans were not aligned with the Paris Agreement target of a global temperature rise well below 2°C by 2020. https://brightnow.org.uk/news/methodist-church-takes-step-closer-divestment/

4. The Church of England General Synod in July 2018 voted to begin divestment in 2020 from oil and gas companies that are ‘not taking seriously their responsibilities’ in the transition to a low-carbon economy, and to complete divestment from those not on track to align with the Paris Agreement by 2023. https://brightnow.org.uk/news/church-of-england-votes-for-fossil-fuel-divestment/

5. The American Petroleum Institute has lobbied for weaker environmental regulation during the Covid-19 crisis. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/17/polluter-bailouts-and-lobbying-during-covid-19-pandemic

6. Several European countries have recently spoken of the ‘duty’ of governments to build climate-resilient economies post Covid-19 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/28/un-chief-dont-use-taxpayer-money-to-save-polluting-industries

Operation Noah supports ‘Teach the Future’

Posted in: News
Date posted: 4 May 2020

As young people around the world have responded to the action initiated by Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg with widespread school climate strikes, it has become increasingly clear that the climate crisis is a major concern for the young. They know that their education will have limited value in a world of the future if climate change is not tackled and here in the UK they are calling for the education system to inform them and prepare them.

At Operation Noah we recognise how important it is that young people have a voice on these issues and we are pleased to support the student-led campaign, Teach the Future.

April 2020 Newsletter

Posted in: Newsletters
Date posted: 25 April 2020

Read our April Newsletter

In this newsletter we pay tribute to the late Sir John Houghton, a keen supporter of Operation Noah from our inception. You are also invited to ask your church or Christian organisation to make a decision to divest from fossil fuels ahead of the next global divestment announcement for faith organisations and we have news of a new Bright Now report.

To receive future newsletters straight to your inbox, please use the email sign-up form on the left or click here.

The Church Still Needs to Lead on Action on Climate Change

Posted in: Articles, Blog, News
Date posted: 23 April 2020

A new poll has found that almost half the public believe the Government should respond with the same urgency to climate change as it has with Covid-19. Forty-eight per cent of those polled agreed with this statement, with only 28 per cent disagreeing.

The poll, which was carried out by Opinium and commissioned by the Compassion in Politics Podcast, provides a green light to the Government to take strong action to tackle the climate crisis, even as we also tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

At the same time, a YouGov poll commissioned by The Royal Society of Arts, found that only nine per cent of the population want life to return to normal after lockdown. The overwhelming majority, 85 per cent, would like us to learn from lockdown and retain some of the personal and social changes we have gained, such as cleaner air, stronger communities and seeing more wildlife.

Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA, said: ‘Amid the awful news and general doom, we must use this time to imagine a better future. This poll shows that the British people are increasingly aware that the health of people and planet are inseparable and it’s time for radical environmental, social, political and economic change.’

At Operation Noah we believe the Church, as stewards of creation, needs to lead on taking drastic action on climate change. The pandemic, and subsequent lockdown in many countries, is estimated to reduce global carbon emissions by 5.5 per cent in 2020, yet scientists are calling for cuts of 7.6 per cent every year to keep global average temperatures from rising above 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Clearly, we have a long way to go. We have joined a number of other organisations in calling for a ‘Just Recovery’ from Covid-19 which puts the welfare of people and planet at its heart. Individuals can also sign up to this call – will you join us?

POSTPONED: Operation Noah Supporters’ Day

Posted in: Featured
Date posted: 23 March 2020

In light of recent developments concerning the coronavirus pandemic, Operation Noah has made the decision to postpone its Supporters’ Day which was due to be held in June. We hope to set a new date in due course. Sign up to our newsletter to be kept updated. Many thanks for your patience and understanding in these uncertain times.

PRESS RELEASE: Operation Noah welcomes Church of England decision to set 2030 net zero target

Posted in: News
Date posted: 13 February 2020

Field with sunset in background, overlay text reads: "Operation Noah welcomes Church of England decision to set 2030 net zero target"

12 February 2020

Operation Noah joyfully welcomes the outcome of the Church of England General Synod debate on the climate emergency and carbon reduction target.

General Synod members voted by 144 votes to 129 to support an amendment from Revd Canon Prof. Martin Gainsborough, Chaplain to the Bishop of Bristol, to set a net zero emissions target of 2030.

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