Divestment letter sent to CofE Synod members

A letter asking Church of England Synod members to endorse the Church’s Routemap to Net Zero and urge all areas of the Church of England to divest from fossil fuels before COP27 has been sent to all Synod members ahead of Synod in York this Friday.

The letter, which was emailed to all 467 members on Tuesday 5th July 2022, is reproduced below.

Dear Member of Synod,

York Synod: Routemap to Net Zero Carbon and divestment from fossil fuels

I am writing to you, and all members of Synod, on behalf of Christian Climate Action[1], for two reasons:

  1. To urge you to vote in favour of endorsing the Routemap to Net Zero Carbon 2030 motion being debated at Synod in York this Friday 8th July.

In the words of Archbishop Justin, ‘Climate change is the greatest challenge that we and future generations face’[2]. Scientists are telling us that we have very little time left to act if we want to give ourselves reasonable change of avoiding the worst impacts. Of course, vulnerable communities around the world are already experiencing the ravages of climate change first and worst’[3].

We are pleased that back in 2020 the Church of England agreed to work toward Net Zero by 2030. It is now important that the routemap that will get the Church to Net Zero is endorsed and put into action as swiftly as possible. Not only will this reduce the Church of England’s emissions, it will also act as prophetic statement and an inspiration to the wider world.

As well as voting in favour of the motion we would encourage you to speak in favour of it during the debate on Friday afternoon to help ensure it is passed.

Beyond Synod, we would also encourage you to do everything within your power to implement the route map in your local context. The motion calls on every Diocese, Cathedral, TEI, school, office and the top 20% of energy-consuming churches, to agree a programme of action to achieve net zero with a clear time frame based on the routemap.

We also note that the routemap does not include the Pensions Board or the Church Commissioners and that they are both aiming for Net Zero by 2050. Whilst the Pensions Board expects to achieve this 10-years early[4], this is simply too late. According to Professor Sir David King, Former Chief Scientific Advisor: ‘We have 4-5 years to put in place everything to manage civilisation for the next millennium’[5]. We would encourage you to do anything you can to push for the Church Commissioners and the Pensions Board to move their targets forward to 2030, so as to align with the rest of the Church of England.

CCA members recently visited Wells Cathedral
  • 2. To ask you to urge all sections of the Church of England to commit to divest from fossil fuels as a matter of urgency.

The burning of fossil fuels constitutes 86% of carbon emissions and is the key driver of climate change. In May 2021, the International Energy Agency’s Executive Director said: ‘If governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year’[6]. And in March this year UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres commented it was ‘Madness to turn to fossil fuels because of the Ukraine war.’[7]. Yet fossil fuel companies including Shell and Exxon Mobil are currently spending over £100 million per day on exploring new oil and gas[8] [9] [10]. They are continuing to reap the rewards of unabated exploration and production, while falsely promoting the idea that they are investing a significant percentage of their capital on renewable energy[11].

The evidence against continuing investments in Shell in particular, is mounting. It is apparent that in March of this year Shell took advantage of cheaper Russian oil prices resulting in a public outcry[12]. They have since been accused of using an ‘accounting trick’ to continue buying Russian oil secretly[13]. In addition, we believe that many of the clergy and laity of the Church of England would find it deeply uncomfortable knowing that the Church is profiting from Shell’s ‘highest quarterly profits since 2008’ in March in the midst of a fuel and cost of living crisis.[14]. These actions do not appear to be aligned with your Responsible Investment policy established around the two principles of “Respect for People” and “Respect for the Planet”.

It is heartening that 12 Church of England dioceses have, in recent years, divested from fossil fuels and made public commitments not to reinvest[15]. However, 13 dioceses continue to invest in fossil fuels and the Church Commissioners and Pensions Board are thought to collectively hold investments of c.£55m in fossil fuel companies.

We understand that the Church Commissioners and Pensions Board intends to divest from fossil fuel companies that are not ‘Paris Agreement complaint’ by the end of 2023. However, on their current trajectory, it is highly unlikely they will become Parris Agreement compliant between now and then and time is of the essence on this issue. Every day we fail to take the necessary action results in more impacts around the world and more deaths. We have urged both the Commissioners and Pensions Board to consider the points made above in conjunction with Paris Agreement compliance in their upcoming review of fossil fuel investments.

We urge you to use your influence to encourage the church to divest from all fossil fuels ahead of COP27 in Egypt in November to demonstrate the prophetic voice of the Church for the young, the most vulnerable and the poorest and in the face of the destruction of God’s Creation.

Total divestment from fossil fuel companies would allow the Church and the Archbishop in particular, as he did so eloquently concerning refugees, to speak more clearly on how large fossil fuel companies supported by government are contributing to the increase in global temperatures. It is only by divesting entirely, that he and the Church would not be exposed to the easy criticism from the media that comes from still having investments in oil and gas.

Christian Climate Action

Christian Climate Action is an ecumenical community of Christians supporting each other to take meaningful action in the face of imminent and catastrophic anthropogenic climate breakdown. We are inspired by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit. Following the example of social justice movements of the past, we carry out acts of public witness, nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience to urge those in power to make the changes needed.

You would be very welcome to join us. Our next ‘New to CCA’ Zoom call is on Wednesday 20th July, 7pm.

Kind Regards

Christian Climate Action

christianclimateaction@gmail.com

www.christianclimateaction.org

https://spckpublishing.co.uk/time-to-act


[1] https://christianclimateaction.org

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgsJE2UnGk4

[3] https://www.ipcc.ch/2022/02/28/pr-wgii-ar6/

[4] (https://www.churchofengland.org/media-and-news/press-releases/church-england-pensions-board-10-years-ahead-target-meet-2050-net

[5] “We now have no time on our hands” – In conversation with Professor Sir David King – Business & Finance | Business & Finance (businessandfinance.com)

[6] Pathway to critical and formidable goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 is narrow but brings huge benefits, according to IEA special report – News – IEA

[7] Climate change: ‘Madness’ to turn to fossil fuels because of Ukraine war – BBC News

[8]Revealed: the ‘carbon bombs’ set to trigger catastrophic climate breakdown | Fossil fuels | The Guardian

[9]Shell’s Jackdaw gas field given go-ahead by regulators – BBC News

[10] ExxonMobil makes three new discoveries offshore Guyana, increases Stabroek resource estimate to nearly 11 billion barrels

[11] Are the big oil companies serious about renewable energy? | Ethical Consumer

[12]  Shell defends ‘difficult’ decision to buy Russian crude oil – BBC News

[13] Shell accused of using ‘accounting trick’ to keep buying Russian oil (telegraph.co.uk)

[14] Shell Q1 2022 earnings: Highest quarterly profit since 2008 on strong oil prices (cnbc.com)

[15] https://operationnoah.org/featured/press-release-global-faith-institutions-announce-divestment-as-oil-and-gas-companies-threaten-1-5c-climate-goal-with-reckless-expansion-plans/

2 thoughts on “Divestment letter sent to CofE Synod members

  1. David Rhodes says:

    Far too polite. We should be demanding the immediate withdrawal of CofE investments from oil companies and calling out Justin Welby as the key player in this shameful and obscene collusion in the deaths of millions of vulnerable people. Failing that withdrawal we should demand Welby’s resignation.

    In case you feel this suggestion is somewhat unchristian I refer you to the abrasively insulting words of Jesus to bullshitting senior clergy in Matt 23:27 on the subject of whitewashed tombs and their contents.

    Like

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