Back in December 2020 we announced Operation Noah’s support for the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill (CEE Bill). We are one of more than 60 organisations who are members of the CEE Bill Alliance. We now need your help to keep it high on the political agenda.
The Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill
In a nutshell, the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill calls for the UK to make and enact a serious plan to deal with the climate emergency.
“This Bill outlines the path needed to avoid the catastrophe outlined by the United Nations… it is farsighted aiming to protect those at risk now and in the future.” – Kumi Naidoo, former International Executive Director of Greenpeace International and Secretary General of Amnesty International,
It has the potential to become the most significant move forward on the climate emergency since the Climate Change Act 2008. It is a Private Members’ Bill, and taking it through parliament will be a hard-fought process but it has been done before with major climate legislation. It is an alliance bill that has been written by scientists, lawyers and activists and it is gathering support from a broad range of campaign groups, businesses, charities and individuals.
Create a Twitter storm and drop a banner
Recently, a second hearing of the bill was postponed for the second time when Friday sittings of Parliament were cancelled. With this in mind, the CEE Bill Alliance is calling for a day of action on 26th March. We’re encourage Operation Noah supporters to get involved by doing two things:
Help create a Twitter storm – a sudden increase of posts on Twitter about the Bill. Record a message and tweet it to your MP asking them to back the CEE Bill (#CEEBill).
Drop a banner in your local area. Many Church buildings would make good locations for a banner drop.
Operation Noah is delighted to introduce four new trustees.
Stephanie is passionate about environmental justice and intersectionality, based in Bristol. Before her current role as Development Intern at the Centre for Sustainable Energy, Stephanie gained experience in the community renewable energy sector when working with Pure Leapfrog as their Social and Environmental Impact Officer. Whilst at University, where she studied Geography, Steph worked at NUS as the UK’s Student Sustainability Ambassador and ran the Switch Off campaign encouraging energy-saving behaviour changes to students across the UK.
Shilpita is an environmental economist and focuses on climate resilience and sustainable cities. She is passionate about linking faith and climate justice and getting young people and the private sector involved in climate action. She is an active member of the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) and serves in the student ministry of her church in London. Originally from India, Shilpita grew up in Sri Lanka, Jordan and Thailand before moving to the UK. She holds a BA in Land Economy from the University of Cambridge and an MSc in Environmental Economics and Climate Change from the London School of Economics.
Rachie has worked with excluded and challenging young people for 30 years, since studying at Manchester University and later London School of Theology. She is also a Therapeutic Coach which brings theology, behavioral change and life into sharp focus. Rachie has been active in the climate scene for ten years, working with her local church to get Eco church interest and lifestyle change. She is a regular writer, preacher and motivational speaker on any platform that will have her! Rachie’s heart is for the church, both local and global, to lead the way on the needs of the earth and she loves resourcing, encouraging and galvanizing authentic living in this space. She is married with three nearly-adult children, and they live in NW London with Totem the dog. Rachie is also an active member of Christian Climate Action.
Christian environmental and development charities Christian Aid, Eco-Congregation Scotland and Operation Noah today joyfully welcome the decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church, at their General Synod, to set a 2030 net zero carbon emissions target.
The motion was proposed by Revd Elaine Garman, Acting Convenerof the Church in Society Committee for the Scottish Episcopal Church. Speaking ahead of the motion being carried, she said, ‘We are in a climate emergency… We all must act and act now. As a Church we must lead… Our motion today is designed to enable the Scottish Episcopal Church…in reducing our negative impact on our climate… We can be part of Scotland’s preparations for the COP26 climate summit next year.’
The motion, passed by General Synod, reads: ‘That this Synod, expressing the need for urgent action in relation to the global climate emergency, call on the Church in Society Committee, working in conjunction with other appropriate bodies, to bring forward a programme of actions to General Synod 2021 to resource the Scottish Episcopal Church in working towards achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030.’
The decision to set a 2030 net zero target is especially significant as Glasgow prepares to host the UN climate talks, COP26, in November 2021.
The Provost of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral Edinburgh, The Very Revd John Conway, welcomed the motion: ‘This is an important first step for the Scottish Episcopal Church, showing our commitment to action in the face of the depth of the climate crisis. Responding to the climate emergency is the most urgent task facing us all, requiring all the spiritual and intellectual resources available. To speak with any authority about that spiritual task of living more simply, however, requires us to put our own house in order, and this motion sets us on that road. I look forward to the resources offered to help us all move to being carbon neutral in 10 years time.’
In June 2019, the Scottish Episcopal Church General Synod voted to change its ethical investment policy following a motion proposed by the Revd Diana Hall, Rector of St Anne’s, Dunbar. The motion stated that ‘the ethical investment policy be updated to reflect the moral imperative to divest fully from fossil fuels’.
Since then, an Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) has been established. which gave its first report to General Synod today. The report stated that the Church has sold its direct investments in fossil fuel companies, but continues to invest in fossil fuels indirectly through its pooled funds.
At General Synod, there were calls for the Scottish Episcopal Church to publicly announce its commitment to divest from fossil fuels and to complete the divestment process as soon as possible. In his speech to the General Synod, The Very Revd John Conway welcomed the work done to date by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) and asked the Church’s College of Bishops to sign the Scottish Churches COP26 Pledge: Divestment and the Just and Green Recovery, which was recently launched by Eco-congregation Scotland and other partners.
The decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church to reach net zero emissions in the next decade follows the Church of England decision to set a 2030 net zero target earlier this year.
At the Church of Scotland 2020 General Assembly in October, the Church’s Faith Impact Forum brought a proposal to the General Assembly ‘for the Church to transition both locally and nationally to net zero carbon emissions by 2030’. Many local authorities have also made this pledge, including the City Councils of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Sally Foster-Fulton, Head of Christian Aid Scotland, said: ‘Only this week the Secretary General of the United Nations told the world we have a climate emergency which is impacting most heavily on the world’s most vulnerable people. We know all too well here at Christian Aid that those who have done the least to cause the problem suffer the most. And so it’s really encouraging that today the Scottish Episcopal Church has decided to commit to net zero emissions by 2030. As 2020 draws to a close, we can look ahead to COP26 in Glasgow alongside our Church partners in Scotland, as they continue to pursue decisions that will lead to climate justice for those living on the sharp end of the climate emergency.’
Mary Sweetland, Chair of Eco-congregation Scotland, said: ‘We are really pleased to see that our supporting Churches are backing the priority to aim for net zero by 2030, which will bring changes to local congregations and their members.’
James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Manager at Operation Noah, said: ‘It is wonderful news that the Scottish Episcopal Church has set a target of reaching net zero emissions by 2030. In order to demonstrate leadership on the climate crisis ahead of the UN climate talks in Glasgow next year, it is vital that the Scottish Episcopal Church supports a just and green recovery from Covid-19 by completing divestment from fossil fuel companies and investing in the clean technologies of the future.’
1. Operation Noah is a Christian charity working with the Church to inspire action on climate change. It works with all Christian denominations. operationnoah.org
2. Christian Aid holds a vision of a better world, free from poverty and climate change. For over ten years, Christian Aid Scotland has been campaigning for the UK and Scottish Governments to take climate change seriously for the benefit of those who are impacted first and worst by its effects. christianaid.org.uk
3. Eco-Congregation Scotland is a movement of Scottish church congregations, of all denominations and none, committed to addressing environmental issues through their life and mission. ecocongregationscotland.org
4. The motion passed by the Scottish Episcopal Church General Synod reads as follows: ‘That this Synod, expressing the need for urgent action in relation to the global climate emergency, call on the Church in Society Committee, working in conjunction with other appropriate bodies, to bring forward a programme of actions to General Synod 2021 to resource the Scottish Episcopal Church in working towards achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030.’
Today, 47 faith institutions from 21 countries, including nine institutions from the UK, announce their divestment from fossil fuels as a practical response to the climate emergency.
Participating institutions include five Catholic religious orders in the UK, two United Reformed Church Synods, UK-based local Anglican and Methodist churches, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (Catholic) and American Jewish World Service. The full list of participating institutions is here.
The announcement coincides with the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Faith leaders’ action puts pressure on government leaders, and their commitment to clean energy stands in stark contrast with many governments’ failure to deliver ambitious energy strategies.
The UK government faces increasing pressure to demonstrate global leadership on the climate crisis ahead of the UN climate talks (COP26) taking place in Glasgow in November 2021. Earlier this month, 70 organisations launched The Climate Coalition’s 10 Point Plan for a Green, Healthy and Fair Recovery. This includes a call for the UK government to end all public support for fossil fuels overseas and support countries to leapfrog to renewable and efficient energy.
Recently, in preparation for the G20 meeting that begins on 21 November, environment ministers released a statement that was widely seen as rubber-stamping fossil fuel bailouts and removed a long-standing G20 call for the end to fossil fuel subsidies.
With renewables now growing at a faster pace than fossil fuels, institutional investors are increasingly moving toward sustainable investments in the clean energy economy. Faith investors are an important part of this movement, constituting the single-largest source of divestment in the world, making up one-third of all commitments.
Pressure from faith investors and others has exposed the inherent weakness of the fossil fuel industry, with Royal Dutch Shell now citing divestment as a material risk to its business.
This week, from 19-21 November, Pope Francis has convened the ‘Economy of Francesco’, an online conference involving more than 1,000 young adults, which will explore innovative ways of shaping a sustainable economy. This conference builds on an announcement in June, when the Vatican recommended in its first-ever operational guidelines on ecology that all Catholic organisations divest from fossil fuels.
Today’s divestment announcement means that more than 400 religious institutions have now committed to divest.
Statements from leaders:
Inger Andersen, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, said: ‘The economic power of faiths, turned to responsible investments and the green economy, can be a major driver of positive change, and an inspiration to others, as we rebuild better.’
James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Manager at Operation Noah, said: ‘It is hugely encouraging that so many faith institutions have stopped investing in the fossil fuel industry. Churches need to divest from fossil fuel companies as a practical response to the climate emergency ahead of COP26 next year. The UK government urgently needs to end all public support for fossil fuels at home and overseas.’
The United Reformed Church Southern Synod has transferred its reserves into a new fund that excludes the oil, gas, and coal industries. Revd Bridget Banks, Moderator of United Reformed Church Southern Synod, said: ‘We are pleased that we have been able to achieve this during the COVID lockdown. It’s an issue that we have been wrestling with for several years. It is good that we have now brought our investments into line with our commitment to reduce the carbon footprint of the Synod. Many of our local congregations are also exploring how to line up the ways they do things with their belief that this world is God’s world and God calls us to take care of it.’
Fr Dermot Byrne MHM, Regional Representative for the Mill Hill Missionaries (British Region), said: ‘Our members have always worked among the poorest and most disadvantaged in Africa, Asia and South America, and the pursuit of social equality and justice has always been a serious priority for us. Concern for what Pope Francis reminds us is ‘our common home’ has to be part of that pursuit. There can seem to be little that we can do to make an impact, but divestment from fossil fuels is a practical choice that is open to us all and may have far-reaching results. Consequently, we feel that such divestment is in line with Catholic social teaching and the spirit of the present age, and we are happy that we, as a Region, are able to make this small contribution.’
Revd Vanessa Conant, Rector of St Mary’s Walthamstow and the Parish of Walthamstow, said: ‘The climate crisis is the most critical issue facing our planet and, as Christians, we must act. People in my parish experience the impacts of this crisis every day through ill health related to air pollution and are worried about what we will leave future generations. It’s no longer acceptable to fund fossil fuels or assume these businesses will regulate themselves. We must divest, and must use our power to hasten the green energy revolution we need.’
Robert Bank, President and CEO of American Jewish World Service, said, ‘We decided to divest from fossil fuels earlier this year to align fully how we invest our funds with our global grantmaking to combat climate change and secure climate justice for the most vulnerable people in the world, ensuring that we live our Jewish values and take up our enduring commitment to repair our broken world.’
The full list of participating institutions is here.
4. An infographic map of committed institutions is here and here.
5. Global Divestment Announcement Statement:
The World Council of Churches, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, Operation Noah, Green Anglicans and GreenFaith invite faith institutions from around the world to join a global divestment announcement on 16 November 2020.
The global divestment announcement, which will coincide with the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, offers an opportunity to faith organisations to highlight the urgent need to divest from fossil fuels and invest in clean alternatives.
The announcement will send a strong message to world leaders meeting at the G20 summit in November about the need for a green and just recovery from Covid-19. It will take place the week before the Economy of Francesco event, at which Pope Francis will give an online address to young economists and entrepreneurs from around the world.
Divestment from fossil fuel holdings is a powerful act of faith that hundreds of religious institutions around the world have taken to respond to the climate emergency. It represents the shifting of investments out of an industry that is a primary cause of the climate crisis. Furthermore, an increasing number of values-driven investors are investing in solutions to the crisis, and are financing enterprises and initiatives providing access to clean, affordable energy, including zero-carbon energy solutions for the 850 million people without access to electricity.
Any groups interested in joining the announcement will confirm (i) that they have divested from fossil fuel investments; or (ii) that they will divest from any investments in fossil fuels as soon as possible, and within five years at the latest; or (iii) that they do not hold any fossil fuel investments and will not invest in fossil fuels in the future.
The Methodist Council has voted to support a motion calling for divestment from fossil fuel companies, agreeing that further action is needed to fully implement a motion on divestment passed by the 2017 Methodist Conference. The debate had been referred to Council by the Methodist Conference in July this year.
The 2017 Methodist Conference passed a motion calling for divestment from any fossil fuel company that had ‘not aligned their business investment plans with the Paris Agreement target of a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees’ by the 2020 Conference. Meeting the Paris Agreement goals is generally seen as our best chance of avoiding the most catastrophic consequences of the climate crisis.
The Methodist Conference debate in July 2020 followed an announcement from the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church in June that it would divest from BP and Total, but continue investing in four oil and gas companies. It continued investing in Shell, Repsol, Eni and Equinor, after the Joint Advisory Committee on the Ethics of Investment (JACEI) concluded that these companies ‘are aligned, or are close to being aligned, with the Paris Agreement.’
The resolution passed by Methodist Council states: ‘The Council supports the request that JACEI recommends that the Central Finance Board fully implements Notice of Motion 2017/209, and disinvests before the 2021 Conference from all oil and gas companies which are not currently aligned with the Paris Agreement target of a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees.’
Last week, the Transition Pathway Initiative (a project supported by the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church) published its latest analysis of companies in different sectors, which showed that no oil and gas company is aligned with limiting global average temperature rises to well below 2°C, or even 2°C.
There has been growing support in the Methodist Church for full divestment from fossil fuels. In June, 260 Methodists, including 114 ministers and former Presidents and Vice Presidents of the Methodist Conference, signed a letter calling for the Central Finance Board to complete divestmentfrom fossil fuel companies.
Five Methodist churches have already announced their decision to divest from fossil fuels including Ivybridge Methodist Church in Devon (in December 2019) and Stirling Methodist Church (in January 2020). Three further Methodist churches announced their decisions to end investments in fossil fuel companies as part of the global divestment announcement: Lancaster Methodist Church, Stroud Methodist Church and Banner Cross Methodist Church in Sheffield. They called on the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church to complete divestment from fossil fuels this year.
Martha Rand, a representative of the Methodist Youth Assembly, who originally proposed the motion at Methodist Conference, said: ‘I am overjoyed that Methodist Council has agreed that JACEI and the Central Finance Board have not gone far enough in response to the climate emergency. This is vital not just for the new generation of Methodists, but also in support of our partner Churches around the world. We hope that the Methodist Church will now act with urgency to fully divest from all fossil fuel companies.’
The motion was seconded at Methodist Conference by Revd John Howard, the former Chair of JACEI, the Methodist Church’s ethical investment advisory group. He said: ‘I am glad that the Methodist Church has had the courage to do the right thing, given the severe and urgent nature of the climate crisis.’
James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Manager at Operation Noah, said: ‘We would like to thank the Methodist Council members and all Methodists who have supported this resolution on fossil fuel divestment. Given that no oil and gas companies are aligned with the Paris Agreement targets, the Central Finance Board should now commit to full divestment from all fossil fuel companies.’
1. Operation Noah is a Christian charity working with the Church to inspire action on the climate crisis. It works with all Christian denominations. http://operationnoah.org/
2. The resolution passed at the Methodist Council on Monday 12 October reads as follows: ‘The Council supports the request that JACEI recommends that the Central Finance Board fully implements Notice of Motion 2017/209, and disinvests before the 2021 Conference from all oil and gas companies which are not currently aligned with the Paris Agreement target of a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees.’
8. A September 2020 Oil Change International report endorsed by Christian Aid, ShareAction and others, entitled Big Oil Reality Check — Assessing Oil And Gas Climate Plans, found that none of the major oil companies come close to alignment with the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement (it analyses the companies using around 10 different metrics). http://priceofoil.org/2020/09/23/big-oil-reality-check/
10. Here is the text of the amended motion passed by the Methodist Conference in July 2020:
The Conference welcomes the analysis provided by the Central Finance Board and JACEI, and the recent decision to disinvest from BP and Total
The Conference notes the recognition of the climate emergency by the 2019 Conference and the need for urgent action at all levels
The Conference notes that the Notice of Motion 2017/109 passed at the 2017 Conference requested disinvestment from any oil and gas company by the 2020 Conference that ‘has not aligned their business investment plans with the Paris Agreement target of a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees’
The Conference notes that the JACEI report for the 2020 Conference on Climate change and fossil fuels, which draws the conclusion that Repsol, ENI, Royal Dutch Shell, and Equinor ‘are aligned, or are close to being aligned, with the Paris Agreement’, has not fully implemented Notice of Motion 2017/109
Taking account of the findings of the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI), a project supported by the Central Finance Board, the Conference refers to the Methodist Council a request that JACEI recommend that the Central Finance Board fully implements Notice of Motion 2017/209, and disinvests before the 2021 Conference from all oil and gas companies which are not currently aligned with the Paris Agreement target of a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees.
Leanne Clelland, Christian Aid Scotland, 07835 123773
James Buchanan, Operation Noah, 07801 570653
Christian environmental and development charities Christian Aid, Eco-Congregation Scotland and Operation Noah joyfully welcome the decision of the Church of Scotland to set a 2030 net zero target.
At the Church of Scotland 2020 General Assembly today, the Church’s Faith Impact Forum brought a proposal to the General Assembly ‘for the Church to transition both locally and nationally to net zero carbon emissions by 2030’.
General Assembly Commissioners voted to support an amendment from Rev Jenny Adams, Minister of Duffus, Spynie and Hopeman Parish Church.
The amended motion passed by General Assembly reads: ‘Instruct the Faith Impact Forum to work with others to develop a strategy for the Church to transition both locally and nationally to net zero carbon emissions by 2030, reporting an outline strategy to General Assembly 2021.’
The decision to set a 2030 net zero target is especially significant as Glasgow prepares to host the UN climate talks, COP26, in November 2021.
In her speech to the General Assembly, Rev Jenny Adams said: ‘This is a climate emergency and the next 10 years are crucial. I hope that by working with others within and beyond the Church, we will be able to get going on this difficult but vital transition, for the sake of all creation.’
Commissioners at the General Assembly also voted in favour of a motion on fossil fuel divestment proposed by Seonaid Knox. This motion called on the Church’s Faith Impact Forum to ‘report to the 2021 General Assembly on the ethical, scientific and theological arguments for and against urgent disinvestment from oil and gas companies’.
The Church of England voted to set a 2030 net zero target earlier this year. Many local authorities have also made this pledge, including the City Councils of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Christian Aid, Eco-Congregation Scotland and Operation Noah applauded the decision to set a 2030 net zero target. They said that the Church of Scotland now needs to end its investments in fossil fuel companies in order to demonstrate climate leadership ahead of the crucial COP26 climate summit.
Sally Foster-Fulton, Head of Christian Aid Scotland,said: ‘The communities with which Christian Aid works, in many of the poorest parts of the world, are calling for urgent leadership on climate change, and this decision from the Church of Scotland demonstrates that leadership. We welcome it warmly, and look forward to working in partnership with the Church of Scotland to help realise these ambitious new goals. One of the steps that the Church could take in the short-term is to commit to end its investments in fossil fuel companies, and we hope that is part of the plans brought forward in 2021.’
Mary Sweetland, Chair of Eco-Congregation Scotland, said: ‘We are delighted that one of our key partner Churches has committed to transitioning to net zero in the next 10 years.’
James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Manager at Operation Noah, said: ‘It is wonderful news that the Church of Scotland has set a target of reaching net zero emissions by 2030. In order to demonstrate leadership on the climate crisis ahead of the UN climate talks in Glasgow next year, it is vital that the Church of Scotland supports a just and green recovery from Covid-19 by divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in the clean technologies of the future.’
Notes for editors:
1. Operation Noah is a Christian charity working with the Church to inspire action on the climate crisis. It works with all Christian denominations.
2. Christian Aid holds a vision of a better world, free from poverty and climate change. For over ten years, Christian Aid Scotland has been campaigning for the UK and Scottish Governments to take climate change seriously for the benefit of those who are impacted first and worst by its effects.
3. Eco-Congregation Scotland is a movement of Scottish church congregations, of all denominations and none, committed to addressing environmental issues through their life and mission.