Diocese of Norwich votes to divest from fossil fuels


The Diocese of Norwich has today voted overwhelmingly to divest from fossil fuel companies.

Norwich Diocesan Synod voted by 61 votes to 5 in favour of a motion to divest from any direct holdings in fossil fuel companies by the end of 2021, and to complete divestment from any indirect investments in fossil fuel companies as soon as possible, and by the end of 2022 at the latest.

The Diocese of Norwich becomes the fifth Church of England diocese to make a commitment to divest from fossil fuel companies, after the Dioceses of Oxford, Bristol, Sodor & Man and Truro have also made divestment commitments in recent months.

Last month, 72 faith institutions, including 37 from the UK, announced their divestment from fossil fuel companies in the largest-ever divestment announcement by religious organisations.

This decision is particularly significant as it comes during the middle weekend of the UN climate talks, COP26, in Glasgow. The Bishop of Norwich, Rt Revd Graham Usher, is lead bishop on the environment for the Church of England.

This important step by the Diocese of Norwich stands as a stark reminder to the oil and gas industry that the Church of England National Investing Bodies’ 2023 deadline agreed by the July 2018 General Synod is fast approaching, and that companies not aligned with the Paris Agreement will face divestment.

Rt Revd Graham Usher, the Bishop of Norwich, spoke in support of the motion. He said: ‘I support divestment with our diocesan funds as we do not have the resources to engage with the oil and gas companies with which we currently have shares.’ He added that he supports the policy of the National Investing Bodies – the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board – to continue engagement with oil and gas companies.

Tim Sweeting, Diocesan Secretary for the Diocese of Norwich, welcomed the decision: ‘We shall now be seeking a measured and responsible way of divesting from fossil fuels as part of a wider asset review. We are also working to ensure that we set clear Environmental, Social and Governance targets for our asset managers so that our investments are aligned to our Christian values.’

The Revd Dr Steven Sivyer, Rector of Martham Parish Churches, who proposed the motion calling for divestment, said: ‘I am delighted. There was a reasoned and thoughtful debate and this is just the start of a wider move to look across our investments. Our Christian duty is to be good stewards of God’s creation. The purpose of this motion is so that we do not profit from the practices that are destroying our environment so that our actions are informed by our morals, which are guided by our faith.’

James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Manager for Operation Noah, said: ‘We joyfully welcome the Diocese of Norwich decision to divest from fossil fuel companies. We thank Bishop Graham Usher and all those involved for their leadership in responding to the climate crisis. We hope that this decision will inspire many other Church of England dioceses to follow their lead.’

The motion passed by Norwich Diocesan Synod reads as follows: ‘This Synod approves the motion that The Diocese of Norwich will not knowingly hold investments, whether directly or indirectly, in companies which predominantly trade in fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal). To that end, it will disinvest from all such companies in which it has direct holdings by no later than 31 December 2021 and it will also discontinue any indirect holdings in such companies as soon as possible, and at the latest by 31 December 2022.’

COP26 webinar: Fossil Fuel Divestment, Climate Justice and a Just Transition for All

Join a special online event live from COP26 in Glasgow this Monday 8 November from 14.00-15.30 GMT, entitled Fossil Fuel Divestment, Climate Justice and a Just Transition for All.

Speakers include Lorna Gold (Chair of Laudato Si’ Movement), Mark Campanale (Founder and Executive Chair of Carbon Tracker), Rt Revd Olivia Graham (Bishop of Reading in the Church of England Diocese of Oxford), Sally Foster-Fulton (Head of Christian Aid Scotland), Pastor Ray Manniecon (an Australian indigenous Anglican pastor) and James Buchanan (Bright Now Campaign Manager at Operation Noah).

This event is being organised by Laudato Si’ Movement, Operation Noah, World Council of Churches, Green Anglicans, GreenFaith, CAFOD, Christian Aid, SCIAF, Tearfund and Eco-congregation Scotland.

Find out more and register to join the webinar.

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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