Church of England to sell off fossil fuel investments

(Photo: WCC / Peter Williams)At a press conference on climate change on July 4, 2014, Daniel Murphy (L) of the Environmental Justice Foundation, Kirsten Auken (center) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, DanChurchAid and Metropolitan Serafim Kykotis (R), Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa announce the holding of an Interfaith Summit on Climate Change in New York City, along with Religions for Peace.

The Church of England says it is adopting a new climate change policy and will cut its investments in fossil fuel companies.

The Anglican church said May 1 it will 12 million British pounds ($18.3 million) investment in companies where more than 10 per cent of revenue comes from extracting thermal coal or the production of oil from tar sands.

"Climate change is already a reality," said Rev. Richard Burridge, deputy chair of the Church's Ethical Investment Advisory Group.

"The Church has a moral responsibility to speak and act on both environmental stewardship and justice for the world's poor who are most vulnerable to climate change," he said.

The national church of England said it had a "moral responsibility" to act on environmental issues to protect the poor, who were the most vulnerable to climate change.

The new policy "marks the start of a process of divestment as well as engagement with fossil fuel companies," noted Bishop Nick Holtam, the Church of England's lead bishop on environment.

He said it also signifies," engagement with fossil fuel companies and better aligns the church's investment practice with its belief, theology and practice."

The church said it also greater engagement with companies making significant contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions.

The Church of England recently filed shareholder resolutions at BP and Shell calling for more transparency over climate change.

Christian Aid's head of public affairs, Christine Allen, said, "The Church of England has effectively read the last rites to the coal and tar sands industry.

"The message must be heard loud and clear; they have no place in a sustainable future, and ultimately other fossil fuels don't either."

The said the church's intention to further divest from "intransigent companies" should be heeded as a "final warning to the energy industry: shift investment out of fossil fuels and into renewables or your investors will do so for you."

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