Could your church join the Epiphany Declaration for Fossil Free Churches?


Today, we are launching the next joint divestment announcement for local churches and Christian organisations, which will take place on the Epiphany (6 January 2020).

Image credit: Mark Stedman

In the lead up to Advent, why not ask your local church to divest from fossil fuels and add its name to the Epiphany Declaration? Local churches of all denominations are invited to join the movement for fossil free Churches and send a positive and hopeful message at the start of the new year.

This is a powerful action that your church can take to respond to the climate emergency and highlight the need for urgent action, ensuring that investments are shifted out of the problem and into the solution. It involves a commitment to divest any investments in fossil fuels within five years.

Even if your church doesn’t currently hold any fossil fuel investments (for instance if it only has a bank account), it can make a powerful statement by pledging not to invest in fossil fuels in the future. 

As a first step, you could speak with your church minister or treasurer, and ask if the issue could be discussed at your next church council or PCC meeting. You could bring a copy of the Epiphany Declaration for Fossil Free Churches to the meeting (see below), and ask if your local church would be able to sign. 

2020: a pivotal year for addressing the climate crisis

The year ahead will be a crucial one for climate action in the UK, with the COP26 conference coming to Glasgow in November 2020.

Last September, UN Secretary General António Guterres said: ‘Climate change is the defining issue of our time – and we are at a defining moment. We face a direct existential threat… If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us.’

Former UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres, has also declared 2020 as a pivotal year for addressing the climate crisis, in which global emissions must peak and fall year-on-year to arrive at ‘net-zero’ by 2050 at the latest.

A report in the Guardian last month revealed that Shell and Exxon are planning to increase oil and gas production by 35% by 2030, when global carbon emissions need to halve by 2030 if we are to meet the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement. BP and Total are also planning to increase production in the next decade.

A number of UK Churches are set to review their investments in oil and gas companies in 2020. The Methodist Conference in 2017 passed a motion calling for divestment in 2020 from any oil and gas companies whose business investment plans are not aligned with the Paris Agreement targets. The Church of England will begin divestment from oil companies in 2020. The year ahead will also offer opportunities for action on divestment in the Church of Scotland, the Church in Wales, the Catholic Church and Scottish Episcopal Church.

Over the last year, public demand for action on the climate crisis has increased rapidly. The UK government declared a climate emergency in May. The School Strikes for Climate and Extinction Rebellion have been particularly high profile examples of the growing climate concern. A recent poll showed that almost two-thirds of people in the UK see the climate emergency as the biggest issue currently facing humankind.

The Epiphany Declaration will seek to build on the momentum from this year’s Easter Declaration for Fossil Free Churches and the global divestment announcement in September. It provides a wonderful opportunity for churches to make a prophetic statement on the need to care for God’s creation.

The increasing availability of fossil free funds also provide options for local churches that no longer wish to invest in fossil fuel companies. For example, CCLA Investment Management recently announced that its COIF Charities Ethical Investment Fund will have fully divested from fossil fuels by 1 December 2019.

How can I encourage my church to get involved?

If you would like to raise the issue of divestment in your church, check out our step-by-step guide, Divest your church, which will run you through what is involved and provide examples of churches that have already divested.

For more information, or if your church would like to join the Epiphany Declaration, please get in touch with our Bright Now Campaign Officer, Helena Ritter, on helena.ritter@operationnoah.org. We would be delighted to hear from you!

If January would be too soon for your church to make a commitment to divest, please do start the conversation in your local church and get in touch with us, as there will be another joint divestment announcement during the spring of 2020.

The Epiphany Declaration for Fossil Free Churches

On the Epiphany, we remember the visit of the Magi to Jesus as a child. Known for their wisdom, they followed the star, in the hope that it would lead them to Jesus to bring him gifts and to worship him.

We, the undersigned, wish for our investments to be made as a sign of hope, contributing to the flourishing of God’s creation, both now and for generations to come.

We support the campaign for fossil free Churches and, conscious of the impact of climate change on our sisters and brothers around the world – especially those living in poverty, we recognise the urgency of the need to shift from fossil fuels to a brighter, cleaner future.

Our church / religious community, [insert name here], therefore commits to divest any existing fossil fuel investments within the next five years (for churches with existing fossil fuel investments) and pledges not to invest in fossil fuels in the future.


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