10 Church of England dioceses have now divested from fossil fuels


Within the last year, 10 Church of England dioceses have divested from fossil fuel companies, making commitments not to invest in coal, oil and gas in the future.

This milestone has been reached following the recent divestment announcements of the Dioceses of Birmingham and Winchester. Their announcements follow the commitments made by the Dioceses of Oxford, Bristol, Sodor & Man, Truro, Norwich, Durham, Worcester and Newcastle.

The Diocese of Birmingham made its divestment commitment following a motion passed at Diocesan Synod last month.

Caroline Egan, a lay member of Birmingham Diocesan Synod who proposed the motion on divestment, said: ‘I am delighted that the divestment motion passed so overwhelmingly. It was inspiring hearing the passion of speakers from the floor urging speedy action, and encouraging to learn that  the Diocese  hopes that it will be able to move to divestment well within the timeframe set.’

John Heywood, a lay member of Birmingham Diocesan Synod who seconded the motion, said: ‘I am very grateful to all who voted in favour of the diocese selling its shares in oil and gas companies. The leadership in the diocese is demonstrating a growing awareness of how urgent the climate emergency is becoming. Looking back to our first motion on fossil fuel divestment in 2015, I wonder what took us so long to bring forward this next step. Congratulations to the persistent negotiating skills of Caroline Egan and the support of all our colleagues in Birmingham Anglicans for Climate Action (BACA).’

The Diocese of Winchester also passed a motion at the Diocesan Synod. The final agreed motion reads as follows: ‘This synod declares that there is an ecological and climate emergency and calls upon parishes, worshiping communities and individual Christians to respond by reviewing their practices and policies in the light of their responsibility to set an example in caring for creation, and requests the Winchester Diocesan Board of Finance to commit to no future investment in fossil fuels.’

James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Director at Operation Noah, said: ‘It is wonderful news that 10 Church of England dioceses have now made divestment commitments and ruled out future investments in fossil fuel companies. This is a hugely important step in accelerating the shift to a clean energy economy. We hope this leadership from the Dioceses of Birmingham and Winchester will encourage more dioceses and local churches to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy and other climate solutions.’

In March, ahead of the UK Government’s Spring Statement and energy security strategy, more than 500 UK Church leaders wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak calling on them to tackle the climate emergency, address the cost of living crisis and stop all new fossil fuel developments, as the International Energy Agency says we must do in order to limit global heating to 1.5°C.

Most UK Churches, including the Baptist Union, Church in Wales and the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church with £1 billion of assets under management, have fully divested from fossil fuel companies. Nearly half of Roman Catholic dioceses in England and Wales have also divested from fossil fuel companies.

The Church of England’s National Investing Bodies are also under scrutiny. In particular, the Church Commissioners’ decision to continue investing in Exxon despite the company’s plans to increase expenditure on oil and gas drilling by up to 45% in 2022. The Church of England Pensions Board’s support for Shell’s strategy has also been vociferously criticised both in the UK and the global South.

At this critical time, momentum is growing for the National Investing Bodies and remaining CofE dioceses to divest from fossil fuel companies. Christians are showing that they want to stop fuelling the climate crisis and support a fair and fast transition to a clean energy future.

Divest your church

If you would be interested in getting your local church or diocese to make a divestment commitment, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Please get in touch with Bokani Tshidzu on bokani.tshidzu@operationnoah.org for further information or to register your interest.

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