5

May

2017

Bishops and clergy call for fossil free pensions from Church of England

 

Three Church of England bishops are among the signatories to an open letter sent to the Church of England Pensions Board, asking them to divest from fossil fuel companies and to invest in renewable alternatives.

The letter, which was initiated by Rev John Nightingale, a retired vicar from the Diocese of Birmingham, is signed by a group of 30 clergy who currently receive or contribute to pensions from the Church of England. They include Michael Doe, Assistant Bishop in Southwark Diocese, Richard Harries, former Bishop of Oxford, and Maurice Sinclair, Assistant Bishop in Birmingham Diocese.

This letter was first published by the Church Times on Friday 5 May, the first day of Global Divestment Mobilisation: www.churchtimes.co.uk

Fossil fuels and the C of E Pensions Board
 
From the Rt Revd Michael Doe, the Rt Revd Lord Harries of Pentregarth, the Rt Revd Maurice Sinclair, and 27 others

Sir, — As clergy receiving or con­tributing to pensions from the Church of England, we are troubled that part of our pensions comes from investments in fossil-fuel companies, who show no sign of taking seriously the recommenda­tions of the United Nations Frame­work Convention on Climate Change in December 2015.

The Paris Agreement commits countries to holding the increase in the global average temperature to “well below 2 degrees Celsius … and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels”.

The world’s carbon budget for meeting the 1.5° target will, however, be used up within four years (as calculated by Carbon Brief) if we continue to use fossil fuels at the current rate. Any temperature rise above 1.5° is likely to precipitate a further process of global warming which would be irreversible.

Despite the urgency of the situa­tion, Shell and BP have not so far shown how they will align their operations with the Paris targets, and ExxonMobil shareholders re­­jected all resolutions on climate change (including the one proposed by the Church Commissioners) at the company’s AGM in 2016.

Conscious of our responsibilities as clergy and, in some cases, grand­parents, we ask the Pensions Board to disinvest from fossil-fuel com­panies and to start investing in re­­newable alternatives. We would point out that disinvestment may prove the prudent financial choice as it will avoid the risk of stranded assets.

We welcome the Transition Pathway Initiative launched by the Church of England in January but we fear that the targets and time­scales of this engagement policy will bear fruit too late to prevent the 1.5° target from being exceeded, with dangerous consequences for the planet.

At the very least, an alternative in the short term would be to allow pensioners to opt into a separate fund that excluded fossil fuels.

We invite others who think as we do to join us in writing to the Church of England Pensions Board.
 
MICHAEL DOE, HARRIES OF PENTREGARTH, MAURICE SINCLAIR, TOM AMBROSE, FRANCIS BUXTON, KEITH CLARINGBULL, CHARLIE CLEVERLY, JIM COX, ANDY DELMEGE, BARBARA DOUBTFIRE, GAVIN DOUGLAS, JESSICA FOSTER, DAVID H. GARNER, JAMES M. GIBBS, OLIVIA GRAHAM, MEG GUILLEBAUD, MARGOT HODSON, JOHN HUGHES, HUGH LEE, ANDREW LENOX-CONYNGHAM, JOHN MORRISON, DAVID NASH, JOHN NIGHTINGALE, DAVID PARRY, EMMA PERCY, MATTHEW RHODES, THOMAS SEVILLE CR, TIM STEAD, CHRIS TURNER, JOHN WILKINSON

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