Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and 130+ clergy call on Church of England to divest from ExxonMobil

Posted in: Blog, Featured
Date posted: 25 February 2022

In an open letter published in Friday’s Church Times (25 February), six bishops and 130 clergy including Rt Revd Dr Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Revd Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, and Revd Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James’s Church, Piccadilly, have called on the Church of England’s Church Commissioners to divest immediately from oil giant ExxonMobil. 

Last month, the Church of England’s National Investment Bodies (NIBs) put ExxonMobil on their list of ‘restricted’ investments for failing to meet the Church’s environmental standards. Despite the restriction, the Church of England’s Church Commissioners said they would continue to invest in ExxonMobil.

In today’s open letter, 136 CofE clergy say they are ‘dismayed’ by the Church Commissioners’ decision to remain invested, given that Exxon continues to ‘undermine action on the climate crisis’, including working behind the scenes to weaken US climate legislation and its plans to increase capital expenditure on oil and gas drilling to above pre-pandemic levels in 2022. 

Revd Dr Darrell Hannah, Chair of Operation Noah, said of the open letter: 

‘Operation Noah welcomes this powerful intervention by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, five bishops and 130 Church of England clergy. None of the major fossil fuel companies are operating in good faith, but Exxon is a particularly glaring example of a company operating in bad faith. If the Church Commissioners are to retain credibility in their response to the climate crisis, they must immediately divest from ExxonMobil.’

Read the full open letter from clergy here

Read the Church Times article on the CofE’s fossil fuel links here


1. Nationally, the Church of England has approximately £55 million invested in fossil fuels, with the Church Commissioners and Pensions Board both still invested in fossil fuels. Meanwhile,18 Church of England dioceses still have fossil fuel investments.

2. Earlier this week, the Guardian and DeSmog ran articles investigating the Church of England’s fossil fuel links

3. Most UK Churches have already divested from fossil fuels or are in the process of doing so, including the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union, the Church in Wales, the Church of Ireland, the Quakers, the United Reformed Church, the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church of Wales and the Scottish Catholic Bishops Conference.

4. Seven Church of England dioceses have announced their full divestment from fossil fuel companies.

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