7

Apr

2021

Anglican Communion webinar highlights local and global leadership on divestment

 

Operation Noah, together with the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, Christian Aid, Tearfund and Eco-congregation Scotland, hosted a webinar on divestment attended by over 220 people on Thursday 25 March.

The webinar, entitled COP26, Divestment and Investment for Climate Justice, explored how Churches in the Anglican Communion can act for climate justice ahead of COP26 through fossil fuel divestment and investment in clean alternatives.

You can watch the webinar here. Please do share it with others!

The webinar included notable contributions from speakers across the Anglican Communion: from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, the Church of England, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church in Wales and the Church of Ireland. The webinar was chaired by Shilpita Mathews, Operation Noah trustee and member of Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN).

Churches across the Anglican Communion are supporting a just and green recovery by divesting from fossil fuels and investing in clean alternatives. The Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Church of Ireland and the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia have divested from fossil fuels. The Church in Wales and Scottish Episcopal Church are set to debate divestment at Governing Body meetings in the coming months. There have also been calls for the Church of England to accelerate divestment from fossil fuels, following the motion on divestment passed at General Synod in 2018.

Revd Dr Rachel Mash, Environmental Coordinator of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and Secretary to the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, spoke on the theological underpinnings of divestment, as well as the negative impacts of the fossil fuel industry in Mozambique and Namibia. She spoke about the decision of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to divest and urged participants to join the divestment movement, quoting Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu: ‘People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change.’

The keynote speech was given by the Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, who shared the many actions the Diocese has taken in response to the climate crisis. He made the exciting announcement that the Diocese of Oxford has completed its divestment from fossil fuel companies: ‘We now have no direct investments in the oil and gas producers sector.’

A video message was shared from Revd Jacynthia Murphy from the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. She spoke powerfully about the impacts of the climate crisis in the region and the decision of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia to divest from fossil fuel companies. She said that the Church had considered its investment in the fossil fuel industry to be ‘contrary to the Church’s missional goals of the care of creation and social justice’, and had decided to divest for this reason.

A message from Revd Jacynthia Murphy

James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Manager at Operation Noah, presented the key findings of the report Church investments in major oil companies: Paris compliant or Paris defiant? He reported that there is clear evidence that fossil fuel companies are not aligned with the Paris targets. He spoke about the impact that Churches and faith institutions are having, especially through their participation in global divestment announcements.

The Provost of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh, Very Revd John Conway, shared how St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral divested from fossil fuels, as well as the steps that are now needed to complete divestment in the Scottish Episcopal Church. He encouraged attendees in Scotland to sign the Scottish Churches COP26 Pledge on Divestment and the Just and Green Recovery, which can be signed by individuals, local churches, regional Church bodies and national Churches. More than 50 church leaders have already signed the pledge, including the Bishops of Edinburgh and Brechin in the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Leader of the Iona Community and the Head of Christian Aid Scotland. 

Revd Stuart Elliott, Vicar of Betws-y-Coed Parish Church and a member of the Church in Wales’ Environment Group and Ethical Investment Group, spoke about the importance of fossil fuel divestment and investment in climate solutions. He shared that the Church’s Ethical Investment Group has concluded that shareholder engagement with oil and gas companies was not having the desired effect. For this reason, a recommendation has been made for the Church in Wales to divest from fossil fuel companies, which will be considered at the Church’s Governing Body meeting later this month.

Stephen Trew, a lay member of the Church of Ireland General Synod, spoke about his involvement in the Church of Ireland divestment campaign. Stephen successfully proposed the motion that was passed at the Church of Ireland General Synod in 2018, which called for the Church to complete divestment from fossil fuels by 2022.

Divest your church

Participants were invited to join the next global divestment announcement for faith organisations on Monday 17 May. If you would be interested in getting your local church or diocese (or equivalents in other Churches) to make a divestment commitment as part of this joint announcement, 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.

Operation Noah would like to thank the 225 people who joined the webinar live, especially our guest speakers for their inspiring contributions. You can watch the webinar here. Please do share it with others!

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