Church of Scotland divests from coal and tar sands


The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has voted to divest from companies involved in the extraction and sale of coal and tar sands. It asked its investors to engage with other fossil fuel companies and agreed that the Church and Society Council should report back its findings to the General Assembly in 2018. 

A petition started by members of the Church of Scotland Youth Assembly calling for full divestment from fossil fuels was signed by nearly 3,000 people in just over three weeks.

However the motion agreed stopped short of divestment from all fossil fuels, the approach taken by the United Reformed Church of Scotland and Quakers in Britain.

James Buchanan, who leads the Bright Now campaign for Operation Noah, said: “We are delighted that the Church of Scotland has decided to divest from coal and tar sands companies.

“This follows last year’s decision of the United Reformed Church in Scotland to fully divest from fossil fuel companies, and marks a significant first step in aligning its investments with its moral responsibility to take action on climate change.”

Ross Greer MSP, who was recently elected to the Scottish Parliament, has campaigned on the issue as a member of the Church of Scotland’s National Youth Assembly. He said: “The Church of Scotland has been at the forefront of campaigns on everything from tax dodging to tackling climate change. Our faith compels us to act when we see injustice and that should be no clearer than in the case of the fossil fuel industry.

“This isn’t just about giving future generations a planet worth living on; millions of people are being affected by climate change today and they are not the people who have caused it. The Church is rightly campaigning for climate justice but we must start by ensuring our own house is in order and divest from fossil fuels.”

The Church of Scotland report on the decision to divest from coal and tar sands can be found here.


1. The motion on divestment reads: “Proposed deliverance… [to] Urge the Trustees of the Church of Scotland Investors Trust and the Church of Scotland Pension Fund not to invest in companies which derive more than 15% of their turnover from extraction and/or sale of thermal coal and/or oil extracted from tar sands.” Following considerable debate a counter-motion for full divestment from fossil fuels fell.

2. Unofficial estimates put the Church of Scotland’s fossil fuel investments at £15 million. The true figure has not been made public.

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