Church of England Divests from Fossil Fuels as Companies Fail Paris Agreement Alignment

Church of England Divests from Fossil Fuels as Companies Fail Paris Agreement Alignment

…By Lola Smith for TDPel Media.

The Church of England has decided to divest its £10.3 billion endowment fund from fossil fuel companies that do not align with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, according to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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By the end of the year, the Church plans to remove its investments from oil and gas companies, unless they demonstrate genuine efforts to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Excluded companies include BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, and others as engagement efforts fail

BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, and several other companies will be excluded from the Church’s investments, joining 20 others that were previously excluded in 2021.

The decision to divest was made by the Church Commissioners for England and the Pensions Board after attempts to engage with oil and gas majors on decarbonization had proven unsuccessful.

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Church Commissioners emphasize duty to protect the environment and pursue climate justice

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, stressed that addressing the climate crisis is a responsibility rooted in protecting God’s creation and promoting justice.

The Church urges energy companies to take climate change seriously, align with the Paris Climate Agreement goals, and work towards a low-carbon economy.

While some progress has been made, it is deemed insufficient, and the Church remains committed to following both scientific findings and its faith in the pursuit of climate justice.

RMAFC explains the rationale behind remuneration review

The Church’s National Investing Bodies have been striving to effect meaningful change within fossil fuel companies.

However, in 2018, the General Synod decided that NIBs should divest their resources from companies that do not align with the goals of the Paris Agreement by the end of 2023.

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Alan Smith, the first church estates commissioner, highlighted the gravity of the decision and expressed hope that companies may align with the Church’s criteria in the future.

Pensions Board emphasizes the need for a just transition and focuses on reshaping demand

The Church of England Pensions Board stated that the lack of progress among energy majors in transitioning to low-carbon alternatives necessitated divestment.

Instead, the Board intends to redirect its efforts toward reshaping demand for oil and gas in key sectors such as automotive, aviation, utilities, and steel.

They also plan to advocate for greater ambition among policymakers.

Response and perspectives from environmental campaigners and industry

Greenpeace UK and Friends of the Earth welcomed the Church’s decision, highlighting the fossil fuel industry’s unwillingness to address concerns and heed scientific advice.

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However, the activist shareholder group Follow This expressed skepticism about divestment, suggesting that voting power and shareholder engagement would be more effective in driving change.

A spokesperson for Shell reiterated the company’s commitment to becoming a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 and emphasized the alignment of their strategy with the Paris Agreement goals.

Conclusion:

The Church of England’s decision to divest its endowment fund from fossil fuel companies underscores its commitment to aligning investments with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

With notable exclusions including BP, Shell, and ExxonMobil, the Church emphasizes the need for energy companies to take urgent action in phasing out fossil fuels and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The move has garnered mixed responses, with environmental campaigners applauding the decision while others question the efficacy of divestment in driving meaningful change within the industry.

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