130+ Clergy call for Church Commissioners to divest from Exxon


In an open letter published in today’s Church Times, six bishops and 130 clergy including Rt Revd Dr Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Revd Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, and Revd Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James’s Church, Piccadilly, have called on the Church of England’s Church Commissioners to divest immediately from oil giant ExxonMobil.

Last month, the Church of England’s National Investment Bodies (NIBs) put ExxonMobil on their list of ‘restricted’ investments for failing to meet the Church’s environmental standards. Despite the restriction, the Church of England’s Church Commissioners said they would continue to invest in ExxonMobil.

In today’s open letter, 136 CofE clergy say they are ‘dismayed’ by the Church Commissioners’ decision to remain invested, given that Exxon continues to ‘undermine action on the climate crisis’, including working behind the scenes to weaken US climate legislation and plans to increase capital expenditure on oil and gas drilling to above pre-pandemic levels in 2022.

Revd Dr Darrell Hannah, Chair of Operation Noah, said of the open letter:

‘Operation Noah welcomes this powerful intervention by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, five bishops and 130 Church of England clergy. None of the major fossil fuel companies are operating in good faith, but Exxon is a particularly glaring example of a company operating in bad faith. If the Church Commissioners are to retain credibility in their response to the climate crisis, they must immediately divest from ExxonMobil.’

Full letter from Church of England clergy: Church Commissioners’ investment in Exxonmobil

To the Editor of the Church Times 



As Church of England clergy, we are writing to support the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) in calling for the Church Commissioners to immediately divest from ExxonMobil.

We are dismayed about the Church Commissioners’ decision to continue investing in US oil giant ExxonMobil, despite the Church of England’s National Investing Bodies having put Exxon on their list of restricted investments.

The Church Commissioners decided to make an exception and continue their engagement with ExxonMobil, after three new Board members were elected at Exxon’s AGM in May 2021.

Despite these changes, there does not appear to have been any progress. Earlier this month, it was reported that Exxon plans to increase capital spending on oil and gas drilling up to 45% in 2022 to $24 billion, higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Unfortunately, despite years of shareholder engagement, Exxon has continued to undermine action on the climate crisis. Last June, a senior ExxonMobil lobbyist was caught on camera revealing that the company was working behind the scenes to water down climate legislation in the US.

In July, Channel 4 reported that Exxon was among several major oil and gas companies, including Shell and BP, which met UK Trade Minister Conor Burns for a private dinner in Texas ahead of COP26, where fossil gas was championed as a ‘vital part of the solution’ to tackling the climate crisis.

A growing number of institutional investors of a similar size are divesting from Exxon, including Nest, the UK’s largest pension scheme, after criticising its lack of progress on managing climate change risks.

The Presbyterian Church (USA), which has supported shareholder engagement with fossil fuel companies for many years with its $11 billion investment portfolio, also recently announced plans to divest from Exxon for ethical reasons.

We call on the Church Commissioners to immediately divest from ExxonMobil.

Yours faithfully,Rt Revd Dr Rowan Williams (Former Archbishop of Canterbury), Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson (Bishop of Buckingham in Diocese of Oxford), Rt Revd Robert Paterson (Honorary Assistant Bishop in Diocese of Worcester), Rt Revd Paul Slater (Former Area Bishop for the City of Leeds), Rt Revd Dr David Atkinson (Assistant Bishop in Diocese of Southwark), Rt Revd Graham Cray (Assistant Bishop in Diocese of York), Ven Elizabeth Snowden (Archdeacon of Chelmsford), Ven Dr Catherine Sourbut Groves (Archdeacon of Lindisfarne), Revd Lucy Winkett (Diocese of London), Revd Canon Dr Giles Fraser (Diocese of Southwark), Revd Dr Sam Wells (Diocese of London), Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Diocese of Southwark)

Revd Canon Rosalind Paul, Bath & Wells
Revd Canon John Nightingale, Birmingham
Revd Roy Allen, Birmingham
Revd Dr Al Barrett, Birmingham
Revd Dr Andrew Lenox-Conyngham, Birmingham
Revd Canon John Wilkinson, Birmingham
Revd Emily Swinerd, Bristol
Revd Becs Challis, Chelmsford
Revd Vanessa Conant, Chelmsford
Revd Sally Croft, Chelmsford
Revd Canon Ann Easter, Chelmsford
Revd Dave Edmondson, Chelmsford
Revd Prof Sandra Eldridge Chelmsford
Revd James Gilder, Chelmsford
Revd Canon Martyn Hawkes, Chelmsford
Revd Susan Iskander, Chelmsford
Revd Beth Joss-Pothen, Chelmsford
Revd Nathan Joss-Pothen, Chelmsford
Revd Julia Lacey, Chelmsford
Revd Marco Lopes, Chelmsford
Revd Dr Elizabeth Lowson, Chelmsford
Revd Canon Imogen Nay, Chelmsford
Revd Sharon Quilter, Chelmsford
Revd Kate Sale, Chelmsford
Revd Susan Sayers, Chelmsford
Revd Frances, Eccleston Chester
Revd Bill White, Chester
Revd Danny Pegg, Chichester
Revd Stella Bailey, Coventry
Revd Dr Wim Kuiper, Durham
Revd Danie Lindley, Durham
Revd Dr Tom Ambrose, Ely
Revd Devin McLachlan, Ely
Revd Annie Bolger, Europe
Revd Dorienke de Vries, Europe
Revd Dr Catriona Laing, Europe
Revd Alan Dodds, Exeter
Revd Malc Allen, Gloucester
Revd Kim Brown, Gloucester
Revd Canon Pauline Godfrey, Gloucester
Revd Dr Julie Nelson, Gloucester
Revd Val Thorne, Gloucester
Revd Alan Crawley, Guildford
Revd Lesley Crawley, Guildford
Revd Luke Aylen, Hereford
Revd Dr Alison Walker, Hereford
Revd Canon Rachel Firth, Leeds
Revd Ruth Newton, Leeds
Revd Canon Debby Plummer, Leeds
Revd Jon Swales MBE, Leeds
Revd Simon Walters, Leeds
Revd Keith Claringbull, Lichfield
Revd Richard Steel, Lincoln
Revd Elizabeth Campbell, London
Revd Preb David Nash, London
Revd Dave Pilkington, London
Revd Dr Anna Poulson, London
Revd Jody Stowell, London
Revd Azariah France-Williams, Manchester
Revd Canon Lisa Battye, Manchester
Revd Mark Coleman, Manchester
Revd Philip Dobson, Manchester
Revd Mike Dyson, Manchester
Revd Clive Hamilton, Manchester
Revd Mark Hewerdine, Manchester
Revd Canon Dr Rachel Mann, Manchester
Revd John Rosedale, Manchester
Revd Christine Sandiford, Manchester
Revd Augustine Tanner-Ihm, Manchester
Revd Grace Thomas, Manchester
Very Revd Geoff Miller, Newcastle
Revd Canon Peter Dobson, Newcastle
Revd Canon Peter Dodd, Newcastle
Revd Canon Judy Glover, Newcastle
Revd Gillian Maude, Newcastle
Revd Tim Mayfield, Newcastle
Revd John McDermott, Newcastle
Revd Bar Nash-Williams, Newcastle
Revd Mark Nash-Williams, Newcastle
Revd Dr Martin Naylor, Newcastle
Revd Dr Pauline Pearson, Newcastle
Revd Canon Jeremy Thompson, Newcastle
Revd Canon Dr Mary Warner, Newcastle
Revd Nigel Warner, Newcastle
Revd Dr Fiona Haworth, Norwich
Revd Angela Rayner, Norwich
Revd Pippa Winton, Norwich
Revd Christine Bainbridge, Oxford
Revd Christopher Evans, Oxford
Revd Dr Darrell Hannah, Oxford
Revd Ruth Harley, Oxford
Revd Canon Dr Simon Jones, Oxford
Revd John MacKenzie, Oxford
Revd Canon Piers Nash-Williams, Oxford
Revd Mark Nelson, Oxford
Revd Chris Owen, Oxford
Revd Canon Mark Oxbrow, Oxford
Revd Canon Richard Peers, Oxford
Revd Phil White, Oxford
Revd Peter Sellick, Peterborough
Revd Canon Kevin Goss, St Albans
Revd Wendy Norris, St Edmundsbury & Ipswich
Revd Canon Alan Amos, Salisbury/Europe
Revd Hilary Bond, Salisbury
Revd Canon Jonathan Herbert, Salisbury
Revd Geoff Anderson, Sheffield
Revd Sibylle Batten, Sheffield
Revd Dr Michael Bayley, Sheffield
Revd Hilary Jowett, Sheffield
Revd Canon Nicholas Jowett, Sheffield
Revd Malcolm Liles, Sheffield
Revd Canon Stuart Matthews, Sheffield
Revd Christine Rees, Sheffield
Revd Canon Ian Smith, Sheffield
Revd Canon Jonathan Boardman, Southwark
Revd Helen Burnett, Southwark
Revd Vanessa Elston, Southwark
Revd Phil Aindow, Truro
Revd Canon Anne Brown, Truro
Revd Andrew Yates, Truro
Revd Samantha Chandler, Winchester
Revd John Flitcroft, Worcester
Revd Vicky Earll, York
Revd Johannes (Jan) Nobel, York
Revd Wendy Wale, York

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