31

May

2023

Events in Edinburgh and London discuss Church investment in climate solutions 

 

In the last few weeks, Operation Noah attended two events linked to our new focus on Church investment in climate solutions: the Church of Scotland General Assembly in Edinburgh and a conference in London hosted by FaithInvest and Christian Aid called, ‘Financing a Liveable Future’. Julia Corcoran, our Bright Now Campaign Manager, attended both events.

Church of Scotland General Assembly

On the first day of the Church of Scotland General Assembly, the Special Committee on Ethical Investment presented a report that had been in the works for two years. Very Revd Sally Foster-Fulton, the new Moderator for the Church of Scotland, opened by saying, ‘Jesus talked more about our money than anything else in the gospel’.

Convenor Val Brown presented the report, outlining the complexity of ethical investment, including the challenges around definitions such as what is ‘ethical’. As part of its work, the Committee listened to a variety of voices within the Church of Scotland, including people who want the Church be cautious so that they can be reassured the mission work of the Church will continue, whilst hearing from others who want the Church to be prophetic and use the Church’s money in a ‘clean’ way to fund socially beneficial activity – an approach that the vast majority of Church of Scotland church treasurers endorse, according to the Committee’s research. 

Val reminded the General Assembly why this issue is so important for the Church: ‘What we do with our money is not a peripheral issue, it is a deeply spiritual issue because at its heart it portrays our values and our priorities’. She also spoke of how complex and interesting the issue is, highlighting the challenges around divestment and engagement. Given the ethical issues around investment, a new Ethical Oversight Committee will be set up to advise the Church of Scotland Investors’ Trust (COSIT) as to what the Church should be investing in. 

Also during the Church of Scotland General Assembly, there was a motion to take forward the ‘Net Zero Strategic Outline’ and to encourage all areas of the Church to develop plans and activities to work towards the Net Zero carbon emissions target by 2030. This includes urging Congregations and Presbyteries to follow the Church’s Net Zero Pathway and to use the Energy Footprint Tool to help them measure and reduce their carbon emissions in line with the target. 

The full report from the Special Committee on Ethical Investment can be found here

Financing a liveable future conference

Julia also attended the ‘Financing a Liveable Future’ conference hosted by FaithInvest and Christian Aid. The conference was held in Methodist Central Hall and had around 100 attendees, bringing development agencies and those working in positive investment together.

Attendees were reminded how influential the global faith groups are: for example, internationally, 50% of all schools are run by faith groups, one-third of all global universities are run by faith institutions, and faith investors are the world’s fifth largest group of investors. 

The first keynote talk was by Chine McDonald, director of the Christian think tank Theos, who spoke about the theology of investment and reflected on stewardship (how we take care of the world around us), not causing harm and taking appropriate risks. 

‘Investment should be about creating added value’, Chine said. 

Danyal Sattar, CEO of The Big Issue, also spoke, addressing the need for systemic change. ‘Just because we have a financial system the way we have it doesn’t mean it’s the correct way to have one.’ 

Danyal spoke of key Christian leaders who have, over the centuries, changed the way the financial system works, including Joseph Rowntree, the Quaker social reformer. 

The final session was specific to the climate and how investment is needed in order to accelerate a ‘just transition’ away from a fossil fueled economy and towards a Net Zero one. There was a consensus that climate was a major challenge but also an opportunity to invest, with international collaboration needed across all sectors, as well as from faith investors.

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