Four dioceses, including London, divest from fossil fuel companies


Since the start of 2023, the Church of England Dioceses of London, Lichfield and Rochester have all announced their divestment from fossil fuel companies, while the Roman Catholic Diocese of Northampton announced its divestment today (28 February) – the very same day that Operation Noah called attention to Northampton’s lack of a divestment commitment, though the diocese was quick to note that it first made the decision to divest back in October 2022.

On Ash Wednesday, Operation Noah launched its ‘40 Days, 40 Dioceses’ campaign, encouraging 40 dioceses in the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church of England and Wales to make divestment commitments this Lent, with a different diocese featured each day. The ‘40 Days, 40 Dioceses’ campaign is being supported by Young Christian Climate Network, Laudato Si’ Movement and the National Justice and Peace Network. 

In just two years, 18 of 42 Church of England dioceses have formally divested from fossil fuel companies, up from zero, while in the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, 10 of the Church’s 22 dioceses have now made divestment commitments. 

Revd Dr Darrell Hannah, Chair of Operation Noah’s Board of Trustees and Rector of All Saints Church, Ascot, said: ‘Last year’s analysis from Global Witness showed that 20 fossil fuel companies – including Shell, Total, BP and ExxonMobil – planned to spend nearly $1 trillion on fossil fuel expansion at the very time we have to stop all new oil and gas developments if we’re to have any hope of preventing runaway global heating. And this winter, while millions of people suffer due to high energy bills, fossil fuel companies are making record profits. For Churches and dioceses to profit off of the misery of other people, and the destruction of our beautiful world, is not acceptable. Investing in fossil fuels is not ethical. We must divest this Lent.’

That dioceses are responding to this call is encouraging, and puts more pressure on the Church of England’s National Investing Bodies (NIBs) to follow through with their intention to divest from oil and gas companies not aligned with the Paris Agreement by the end of 2023 – a commitment that General Synod members are trying to strengthen by putting forward a Private Member’s Motion, which calls on the NIBs to divest by the end of 2023 from any oil and gas companies that are planning to explore for and/or develop new fossil fuels, and to scale up investment in climate solutions to at least 10% of assets under management by 2030.

Operation Noah invites local churches, dioceses, religious orders and Christian organisations to consider joining the global divestment announcement on Thursday 20 April. Please get in touch with Bokani Tshidzu on bokani.tshidzu@operationnoah.org by Thursday 13 April for more information or to register your interest.

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