1

Apr

2015

Birmingham Diocese joins Oxford in calling on the Church of England to disinvest

 

On 21st March, Birmingham Diocesan Synod resolved unanimously to pass a motion urging the Church of England to disinvest its holdings from fossil fuel companies. The resolution calls on the Church to make an explicit commitment to disinvest from coal, tar sands, oil and gas companies, and to seek alternative investments in renewable energy and low-carbon technology.

This follows a similar motion passed by the Diocese of Oxford in November 2014, which the Church’s General Synod is expected to discuss later this year. Revd Darrell Hannah, who raised the Oxford motion, says, ‘I am delighted to hear of this outcome from Birmingham’s Diocesan Synod, and especially that the vote was unanimous. Birmingham has provided clear leadership for the Church of England as a whole. It is becoming increasingly obvious that fossil fuel companies are no longer a good investment. The good people at Birmingham Diocese have recognised this and in doing so have struck a blow for the planet, as well as the Church.’

During the Synod debate, Bishop David of Birmingham Diocese drew attention to the Christian responsibility to care for the whole of creation, commenting ‘nothing is too small to matter or too big to deal with’. Revd Matthew Rhodes, vicar of St Peter’s Church in Sutton Coldfield, said ‘Micro measures are not enough. We need systemic change on a large scale.’

Some within the Church of England have argued that the Church should remain invested in fossil fuel companies for shareholder engagement, and the Church has submitted two resolutions to the Shell and BP AGMs this year. During the Synod debate however, Revd Matthew Rhodes said, ‘Constructive engagement does not seem to be working … BP has sold off its low carbon energy arm’ and, together with Shell, ‘are investing heavily in tar sands and Arctic oil exploration’.

Should the Church of England General Synod accept these resolutions, it will add its voice to the many institutions, churches and organisations supporting disinvestment around the world. The number of Churches and faith communities pledging to disinvest is quickly growing, now including the World Council of Churches, the Church of Sweden, Quakers in Britain, the Uniting Church in Australia, and Anglican dioceses in New Zealand and Australia.

Ellie Roberts, Church divestment campaigner for Operation Noah, says, ‘This motion, coming just a few months after the Oxford resolution, demonstrates that the call from dioceses for the Church to disinvest is growing stronger. We hope that General Synod will heed these calls by voting for disinvestment later this year.’