Church of England excludes all fossil fuel companies from £10.3bn fund
The body managing the Church of England’s £10.3bn endowment fund is excluding all oil and gas companies, stating that none are in “genuine alignment” with global climate goals.
The Church Commissioners for England excluded 20 large oil and gas firms from its investment portfolio in 2021, having already excluded coal extraction and generation at that point.
It gave other firms until 2023 to evidence that their plans for decarbonisation were credible and genuinely aligned to the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C pathway. It stated that it would assess their emissions trajectories with the assistance of the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI).
Today (22 June), the Commissioners have excluded all remaining oil and gas firms from its portfolio after concluding that none had plans aligned with 1.5C.
Businesses that it will divest from include BP, TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil, Shell, Eni and Equinor. They have until the end of the year to produce more robust plans to scale down fossil fuels and scale up renewables, or lose the support of the Commissioners.
First Church Estates Commissioner Alan Smith said: “The decision to disinvest was not taken lightly. Soberingly, the energy majors have not listened to significant voices in the societies and markets they serve and are not moving quickly enough on the transition.
“If any of these energy companies come into alignment with our criteria in the future, we would reconsider our position. Indeed, that is something we would hope for.”
The chair of the Church Commissioners for England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, added: “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.”
Analysis from Net-Zero Tracker this month concluded that, at present, net-zero targets from the fossil fuel sector are “largely meaningless”. This is because they commonly exclude Scope 3 (indirect) emissions. Moreover, no fossil fuel major has a commitment to fully end its oil and gas activities. The only large company in history to have fully pivoted away from fossils in this sector is Orsted, formerly Danish Oil and Natural Gas (DONG).
As of October 2021, more than 70 faith institutions had publicly committed to fossil fuel divestments.
Commenting on today’s news, Christian Aid’s head of global advocacy Jennifer Larbie said: “Over the years the support of Church investors has emboldened oil and gas companies and given them the social license and political capital to influence politicians around the world. That time has ended.
“It is telling that the Church of England, which has worked tirelessly to engage with the oil and gas industry and shift it onto a sustainable approach, has decided that these companies are beyond the pale.”
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