Church of England General Synod votes for fossil fuel divestment

Posted in: News
Date posted: 8 July 2018

PRESS RELEASE: The Church of England’s governing body, General Synod, has voted almost unanimously to divest by 2023 from oil and gas companies not on track to meet the Paris Agreement target of limiting global average temperature rise to well below 2°C.

The amendment, tabled by Canon Giles Goddard of the Church of England’s Environmental Working Group, strengthened the original motion of the National Investing Bodies, which stated that the Church would begin in 2020 to divest from companies ‘not taking seriously their responsibilities to assist with the transition to a low carbon economy’.

The amendment gives this process a deadline and adds alignment with the Paris Agreement as a condition. The overall motion passed with 347 votes in favour, 4 against and 3 abstentions.

General Synod also debated an amendment proposed by the Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Steven Croft, which called on the National Investing Bodies to divest from any oil and gas company which was not on an ‘unequivocal path to aligning its business investment plan with the Paris Agreement’ targets by 2020. The Bishop of Oxford argued that due to the urgency of climate change and the need for global carbon emissions to peak by 2020, divestment should proceed more rapidly. This amendment had been supported by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, as well as by Christian Aid, Tearfund, Operation Noah and USPG.

James Buchanan, who works on Operation Noah’s Bright Now divestment campaign, welcomed the outcome of the debate, saying: ‘We are very glad that General Synod has sent a strong message to oil and gas companies that they are on final notice to fundamentally change their business model, or face divestment.

‘While the major oil and gas companies claim to support the Paris Agreement, they continue to pursue business plans taking us on a path to dangerous levels of climate change, with devastating consequences for humanity.

‘It is unethical for Churches to profit from companies that are causing the very harm they seek to alleviate. Today, the Church of England has drawn a line in the sand and, given the increasing financial risk of fossil fuel investments, they would be well advised to divest sooner rather than later.’

Ends //

Contact: James Buchanan, 07801 570653,

Notes for editors:

1) Church of England press release, including detail on Giles Goddard’s amendment:

2) National Investing Bodies motion: p3

3) Rowan Williams’ op-ed supporting Oxford amendment:

4) Church Times article and letter (below article) from 13 Bishops and 78 clergy supporting the Diocese of Oxford amendment:

5) A similar motion passed at the Methodist Conference last year and the Church of Ireland’s General Synod voted in favour of full divestment this year:

6) Operation Noah’s recent report, Fossil Free Churches: Accelerating the transition to a brighter, cleaner future, can be found here:

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