The Church of England has voted to withdraw funds from companies that ‘fail to do enough’ to combat to climate change.
The Church has voted that they will not support companies not pulling their weight in the fight against climate change, and will sever ties with firms that do not meet the terms of the Paris climate agreement by 2023.
The General Synod, the decision-making body for the entire Church, said they ‘broadly supported the current investment strategy’, which is based on engaging with companies rather than removing investment.
“Synod’s vote makes clear that the Church must play a leading role and exercise its moral leadership on the urgent issue of climate change,” said a spokesperson for the Church of England.
“Today’s decision will allow us to continue to push for real change in the oil and gas sector and use engagement, our voting rights and rights to file shareholder resolutions to drive the change we want to see.”
The motion was passed in full form by 347 members of the Synod, with only four members against the change. David Walker, Bishop of Manchester and deputy chair of the Church Commissioners questioned the need for the change during the debate, “unilateral, wholescale disinvestment from fossil fuel producers in 2020, or beginning in 2020 based on assessments in 2020, would leave our strategy, and influence, in tatters,” he stated.
“[Our change] would not spur companies on to change further and faster. It would do the exact opposite; it would take the pressure off them. Now is not the moment to do that,” the Bishop said. Recently, The Church of England also pulled AU$21M (£12m) in funds out of assets such as coal and tar sands oil, but is still an investor in major fossil fuels companies.
“This vote puts the oil majors on notice, and strengthens the arm of those pushing the companies to move more quickly to a low carbon future,” commented the charity’s head of UK Advocacy, Tom Viita this morning. “If oil companies continue to drag their heels, there is nothing to stop the church divesting earlier if they, or Synod, are not satisfied with the speed of change.”