Oxford Diocese calls on Church of England to disinvest from fossil fuels


On Saturday Oxford Diocese called on the Church of England to disinvest from fossil fuel companies and now pledges to examine its own investments.

Oxford Diocesan Synod has passed a resolution urging the Church of England’s National Investing Bodies to disinvest from fossil fuel companies. The resolution was passed with a majority of 52 in favour, with 37 against and seven abstentions.

The resolution was a private member’s motion moved by the Revd Dr Darrell Hannah and seconded by the Revd Hugh Lee, and was based on a similar motion passed by Bracknell Deanery earlier this year. The resolution calls for disinvestment from coal and tar sands ‘at the earliest opportunity’, from oil in three years, and from natural gas in five years.

The Diocese has also expressed its commitment to reviewing its own investments. Revd Darrell Hannah says ‘It was made clear in the debate by the diocesan officers that the Diocese of Oxford could not call on the Church of England to disinvest and not do the same itself.  The Diocese will thus in the coming weeks and months begin the process of deciding how best to do this.’

Speaking just after the resolution was passed, Revd Darrell Hannah commented ‘I’m overjoyed. The vote followed a vigorous debate in which contrasting views were expressed, with good points on both sides. People recognise the ambiguities of the issue, the importance of the issue, the urgency of the moment, and I’m very pleased the vote went the way it did. This is a good motion which offers a staged approach and thus strikes the right balance between
urgency of the moment and the necessity ‘to keep the lights on’. Oxford Diocese, true to its history, is challenging the Church of England as a whole to take seriously the threat of climate change and what we as Christians do about it.’

Operation Noah’s Vice-Chair, Mark Letcher, says ‘This resolution demonstrates how seriously local churches and dioceses are taking the issue of disinvestment. Following recent commitments from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a national pension fund in Sweden, and the University of Glasgow, the decision today increases the pressure on the Church of England – which still has over £60 million invested in fossil fuel companies – to disinvest.’

The Diocese of Oxford joins a growing number of fossil-free Churches and faith communities around the world, now including the World Council of Churches, the Church of Sweden, Quakers in Britain, the Uniting Church of Australia, the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand and the United Church of Christ in the US. Three Australian and five New Zealand Anglican dioceses have also disinvested, while the Anglican Church in Australia has passed a motion recommending disinvestment to all its member churches.


The text of the motion is as follows:

That this Synod:

(i) recognising the damage being done to the planet through the burning of fossil fuels;

(ii) aware of the huge reserves held by gas, oil and coal extraction industries;

(iii) committing itself to taking seriously our Christian responsibility to care for the planet (“the earth is the Lord’s”);

(iv) acknowledging the financial responsibilities of the Church’s national investing bodies;

(iv) noting that a review of recommended ethical investment policy with regard to climate change has been begun by the Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group (‘EIAG’)

calls on the General Synod of the Church of England to debate a motion in the following form:

‘That this Synod:

(a) urges the National Investing Bodies to disinvest from all coal companies (except those investing in carbon capture) and tar sand companies at the earliest opportunity,

(b) urges the National Investing Bodies to examine the possibility of disinvestment from oil companies but not before three years from now,

(c) urges the National Investing Bodies to examine the possibility of disinvestment from natural gas companies but not before five years from now,

(d) calls on parishes and individual Christians to take steps to encourage the government and political parties to act quickly on climate change.’ ”

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