Church of England drops investment in fossil fuel companies including BP and Shell

The Church of England is dropping its investment in fossil fuel companies over climate concerns and U-turns, including its shares in Shell.

The investments in oil and gas companies had formed part of the church’s £10.1 billion investment fund. The move to divest comes after the pension board set out a five-year plan at its annual General Synod in 2018 to only invest in companies that actively align with the Paris Agreement requirements to help global warming stay at less than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

The decision to divest follows last week’s announcement that Shell CEO Wael Sawan has abandoned plans to cut oil production and is instead prioritising shareholder payouts.

The Church of England Pension Board released a statement condemning the fossil fuel giant after it failed to increase emissions reduction goals to align with the Paris target.

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The Church of England had previously rejected calls to drop fossil fuels, saying it would use its shareholder voice to encourage Shell and BP to reduce their emissions.

Other faith institutions that have divested from fossil fuels include the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reform Church, as well as around half the Catholic dioceses in England and Wales.

“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 the low-carbon economy we need,” said the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

“We have long urged companies to take climate change seriously, specifically to align with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and pursue efforts to limit the rise in temperature to 1.5C 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.”

The Archbishop went on to say that while some progress has been made, it is “not nearly enough”, adding that the Church of England will follow “not just the science, but our faith – both of which call us to work for climate justice”.

The Church of England announcement comes in the wake of numerous other institutions including the LGBT Awards, the Tate and National Portrait galleries and the British Museum also distancing themselves from fossil fuel companies.


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