Following the Church of England’s recent announcement that it will file two shareholder resolutions at the BP and Shell AGMs in 2015, the Church stated last week that it will consider disinvestment from these companies as a ‘last resort’ if they are unresponsive to the Church’s concerns.
Can the Church of England use its investments to change the business strategies of fossil fuel companies, or should it follow other Churches around the world in refusing to profit from, and provide finance to, the fossil fuel industry?
Under pressure from Christian campaigners to disinvest, the Church of England is pursuing an engagement strategy to encourage BP and Shell to take account of climate change. The Church is now filing two shareholder resolutions asking for information concerning the companies’ rating under the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Climate Performance Leaders Index (CPLI), their resilience to the International Energy Agency’s post-35 scenarios, and their investment in low-carbon technology including Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).
Operation Noah is pleased to see the Church considering these issues. However, we believe the Church must go further. We would like to know what criteria the Church of England will use to determine the effectiveness of their engagement, and the point at which a decision to disinvest would be taken. As fossil fuel companies continue to explore and extract ever-increasing amounts of fossil fuels while our window of opportunity to prevent catastrophic climate change grows smaller, when will it be time for the Church to use its ‘last resort’?