30

Sep

2016

Anglican Church of Southern Africa votes to divest from fossil fuels

 

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Angola, Mozambique and Namibia) passed a motion at their Provincial Synod to divest from fossil fuels. This decision follows the lead of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation, which voted to divest in April this year.

The motion, proposed by Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya, warns that “God’s creation is under threat”. It highlights that Southern Africa is set to warm at twice the global average and that “the current severe drought and the resultant food price increases will affect the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society”.

The effects of climate change are being felt particularly strongly in Southern Africa, including in Mozambique, where up to 100,000 people may have to be relocated from the country’s second city, Beira, to protect them from rising sea levels.

As well as the ethical reasons for divestment, there are also financial reasons to divest from fossil fuel companies given the risk of stranded assets, since the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves will need to stay in the ground to prevent catastrophic climate change.

The motion approved by the Synod empowers the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to negotiate with financial institutions to create investment portfolios that exclude fossil fuels, since there are not yet fossil free investment portfolios available in South Africa’s financial markets. If successful, the Church could pave the way for a new ethical investment sector in the country.

James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Manager for Operation Noah, said: “We are delighted that the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has voted to divest from fossil fuels. In doing so, they highlighted the negative impacts climate change is having on the poorest and most vulnerable members of society. We hope that churches in the UK will follow their lead and commit to full divestment from fossil fuel companies.”

The text of the Motion passed can be found below.

MOTION TO SYNOD: Divesting the Provincial Reserve Fund from fossil fuels

This Synod noting

1. God’s creation is under threat
2. Human induced climate change is now widely regarded as the most pressing issue of our time. Extended droughts are a direct consequence of global warming, with extreme weather events occurring more often.
3. Southern Africa is set to warm at twice the global average.
4. The current severe drought and the resultant food price increases will affect the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society.
5. A growing number of churches, universities and foundations have called upon the world’s major fossil fuel companies to support the required shift to renewable energy

Respectfully requests:

1. Requests Provincial Trust Board to adopt the principle to divest from fossil fuels
2. Synod of Bishops mandates the South African Anglican Theological Commission (SAATC) to identify ethical fossil fuel free portfolio options
3. This report to be tabled at ACSA relevant body and negotiate with financial institutions for these to be created where necessary.

Proposer: Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya
Seconder: Bishop Steve Moreo