Church of England pulls out of fossil fuel investment

Church of England

The Church of England is to end investment in fossil fuel companies, saying the industry has “undermined confidence in the sector’s ability to transition”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury says the fossil fuel industry has failed to meet targets set by the Paris climate agreement and that companies’ “recent reversals of previous commitments” has “undermined confidence in the sector’s ability to transition”.

The Church Commissioners and Church of England Pensions Board have each announced they will independently disinvest from fossil fuels this year, as the Church of England’s National Investing Bodies (NIBs) reported back to the General Synod on progress against a 2018 Synod motion, which set out a five-year strategy to invest in climate solutions, engage with high carbon emitting companies, and disinvest from fossil fuel companies not aligned with the Paris Agreement.

The report to Synod from the NIBs on their “Approach to Climate Change”, presents the progress that has been made by the NIBs in response to the Synod motion, but notes that, while some companies have made significant progress, no fossil fuel company has passed the 2023 hurdles set by the NIBs. Today, the Church Commissioners for England and the Church of England Pensions Board each announced their intentions to disinvest accordingly.  

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “The climate crisis threatens the planet we live on, and people around the world who Jesus Christ calls us to love as our neighbours. It is our duty to protect God’s creation, and energy companies have a special responsibility to help us achieve the just transition to the low-carbon economy we need.”

“We have long urged companies to take climate change seriously, and specifically to align with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and pursue efforts to limit the rise in temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. In practical terms that means phasing out fossil fuels, investing in renewables, and plotting a credible path to a net-zero world. Some progress has been made, but not nearly enough. The Church will follow not just the science, but our faith – both of which call us to work for climate justice.”

The General Synod meets for its July 2023 group of sessions between 7 and 11 July at the University of York.

Motions brought from Diocesan Synods will ask the General Synod to examine its response to the climate emergency (Oxford); discuss the contribution of faith to prisoner rehabilitation (Worcester) and look at fees payable to parishes for marriage services (Blackburn).

Legislative and formal business will include approval of options for churches to use electronic registers to record services, the new Clergy Conduct Measure, faculty jurisdiction (amendment) rules and a new Code of Practice on how to conduct Safeguarding Practice Reviews.

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