91 Anglican bishops and clergy support call for divestment at General Synod


13 Anglican bishops and 78 clergy have signed a letter calling on the Church of England’s General Synod to support an amendment on fossil fuel divestment set to be tabled by the Diocese of Oxford today during a debate on the Church’s approach to tackling climate change.

Signatories of the letter include Ellinah Wamukoya, Bishop of Swaziland and Chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network; Andrew Proud, Bishop of Reading; Ruth Worsley, Bishop of Taunton; and Apimeleki Qiliho, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Polynesia and retired Bishop of Fiji.

The letter, reproduced in full below, casts doubt on the strategy of engagement with oil and gas companies currently being pursued by the Church of England, saying:

“as companies such as Shell and BP are still pursuing business plans that would lead to 3-5°C+ of global warming, there is little sign that notice is being taken”

Pointing to the refusal of oil and gas companies to bring their investment plans in line with the Paris Agreement, the letter urges Synod members to vote in favour of the amendment which

“reflects the urgency of action required to prevent the worst impacts of climate change”

The amendment is being proposed by the Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, who spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme earlier this week. The debate with the Bishop of Manchester can be listened to here, starting at 2:54:28, and the Bishop of Oxford’s blog responding to frequently asked questions on the issue can be read here.

A growing chorus of voices

This weekend, Operation Noah met with Adam Matthews, Director of Ethics and Engagement at the Church of England, outside the General Synod chamber in York. We passed on the message sent by the thousands of you who have signed our petition calling for the Church of England to divest from fossil fuels.

An increasing number of organisations have also expressed their support for the Oxford amendment, including Christian Aid, Tearfund, USPG and the John Ray Initiative , with Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, writing in The Telegraph this weekend on why the Oxford amendment should be backed by Synod members.

The call for divestment of the Church of England’s fossil fuel holdings follows a similarly worded motion passed at the Methodist Conference last year and a vote in favour of full divestment at the Church of Ireland’s General Synod this year.

Our recent report, Fossil Free Churches, sets out the ethical, scientific and financial reasons behind Operation Noah’s support for fossil fuel divestment, and you can watch a short video summarising the issues at play in the General Synod debate here.

Full letter to the Church of England General Synod

From the Bishops of Swaziland, Dorchester, Reading, Buckingham, Wolverhampton, Dunwich, and Taunton, and 84 others

This Sunday, the Church of England’s General Synod will debate future investments in oil and gas companies. This will provide a crucial opportunity for the Church to demonstrate credible leadership on one of the most important moral issues of our time.

While the Church of England disinvested from companies involved in the extraction of coal and tar sands in 2015, it is seeking to bring about change through “engagement” with oil and gas companies. Yet, as companies such as Shell and BP are still pursuing business plans that would lead to 3-5+°C of global warming, there is little sign that notice is being taken.

At Shell’s annual meeting in May this year, only 5.5 per cent of investors supported a resolution calling on the company to set emission-reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement.

The diocese of Oxford is proposing an amendment at the Synod calling on the Church of England to disinvest from any fossil-fuel company “which is not on an unequivocal path by 2020 to aligning its business investment plan with the Paris Agreement to restrict global warming to well below 2°C”. This goes further than the weaker motion proposed by church investors.

We urge Synod members to vote in favour of this amendment, which reflects the urgency of action required to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. It gives oil and gas companies time to bring their business investment plans in line with the Paris Agreement. It also sets robust and clear criteria for disinvestment by the Church, beginning in 2020, thus intensifying the Church’s engagement efforts.

By passing this amendment, the Synod will play its part in accelerating the clean-energy transition. It will show true leadership on the urgent issue of climate change both within the UK and the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Yours faithfully,

David Atkinson – Southwark (Assistant Bishop in Diocese of Southwark)

Graham Cray – York (Assistant Bishop in Diocese of York)

Michael Doe – Southwark (Assistant Bishop in Diocese of Southwark)

Colin Fletcher – Oxford (Bishop of Dorchester)

Clive Gregory – Lichfield (Bishop of Wolverhampton)

Mike Harrison – St Edmundsbury and Ipswich (Bishop of Dunwich)

Robert Paterson – Hereford/Worcester (Assistant Bishop in Dioceses of Hereford and Worcester)

Andrew Proud – Oxford (Bishop of Reading)

Apimeleki Qiliho – Polynesia (Assistant Bishop in Diocese of Polynesia and retired Bishop of Fiji)

Maurice Sinclair – Birmingham (Assistant Bishop in Diocese of Birmingham)

Ellinah Wamukoya – Swaziland (Bishop of Swaziland and Chair of Anglican Communion Environmental Network)

Alan Wilson – Oxford (Bishop of Buckingham)

Ruth Worsley – Bath and Wells (Bishop of Taunton)

Rachel Mash – Cape Town, South Africa (Environmental Coordinator of Anglican Church of Southern Africa)

Tim Stratford – Leicester (Archdeacon of Leicester)

John Hawkins – London (Archdeacon of Hampstead)

OIivia Graham – Oxford (Archdeacon of Berkshire)

Malcolm Chamberlain – Sheffield (Archdeacon of Sheffield & Rotherham)

Martin Webster – Salisbury (Retired Archdeacon of Harlow)

Jane Haslam – Bath and Wells

Mike Haslam – Bath and Wells

Philip Hawthorn – Bath and Wells

Julia Hicks – Bath and Wells

Jonathan Morris – Bath and Wells

Graham Owen – Bath and Wells

Rosalind Sellers – Bath and Wells

Catherine Sourbut – Bath and Wells

Debbie Collins – Birmingham

John Nightingale – Birmingham

Al Barrett – Birmingham

Andrew Lenox-Conyngham – Birmingham

Peter Sellick – Birmingham

Derek French – Blackburn

John Rodwell – Blackburn

Ed Saville – Blackburn

Stephen Saxby – Chelmsford

Debbie Beer – Chichester

Mark Betson – Chichester

David Farey – Chichester

Peter Owen-Jones – Chichester

Adam Ransom – Chichester

Graham Coles – Coventry

Tom Ambrose – Ely

Elizabeth Bussman – Europe

Simon Holland – Exeter

Simon Howard – Exeter

Val Thorne – Gloucester

Cate Williams – Gloucester

Susan Bolan – Guildford

Lesley Crawley – Guildford

Alan Crawley – Guildford

Stuart Thomas – Guildford

John Bennett TSSF – Leeds

Ann Broxham – Leeds

Debby Plummer – Leeds

Keith Hebden – Leicester

Andrew Quigley – Leicester

Gillian Straine – London

John Hughes – Manchester

Janet Appleby – Newcastle

Helen Budd – Norwich

Graham Kirk-Spriggs – Norwich

James Ridge – Norwich

Hilary Campbell – Oxford

Barbara Doubtfire – Oxford

Christopher Evans – Oxford

Graeme Fancourt – Oxford

Darrell Hannah – Oxford

Margot Hodson – Oxford

Mark Laynesmith – Oxford

Hugh Lee – Oxford

Tina Molyneux – Oxford

Ainsley Swift – Oxford

Jo Williams – Oxford

Terence Winrow – Oxford

Jimmy Holden – Salisbury

Mike Perry – Salisbury

Ruth Schofield – Salisbury

Michael Bayley – Sheffield

David Goss – Sheffield

Nicholas Jowett – Sheffield

Malcolm Liles – Sheffield

Mark Newitt – Sheffield

Aaron Kennedy – Southwark

Rachel Pennant – St Albans

Cheryl Collins – St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

Stephen Morley – St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

Claire McIlroy – Truro

Francis Buxton – Wales

David Parry – Wales

Ben Chase – Winchester

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