General Synod debated the climate – and the climate won


On the morning of the 12 February I was glued to my computer watching a debate on the environment, live-streamed from the General Synod. This debate was the culmination of a lot of prayer, inspiration and sheer hard work on the part of a few of the Operation Noah board members and many other people. It really mattered to me, to Operation Noah and, I believe, to God, how the debate went.

I was hopeful; there was a lot of awareness out there. Rosalind Rutherford, a local member of the General Synod, emailed me and the other members of the Winchester Diocese Environmental Group, asking us to lobby her about the motion. And I knew that Giles Goddard, who spoke to the motion, would be compelling. As I watched, speaker after speaker spoke in favour of the motion with passion and knowledge. The people who run my Church really seemed to understand both the gravity of the crisis we are in and the responsibility of the Church to act.

When it came to a vote, Synod voted 274:1 with only 3 abstentions to ensure that the C of E investment policy is aligned with their policies on climate change, and to establish a working group on the environment to monitor this and other environmental issues.

Most importantly, the question of disinvestment was discussed and not dismissed. The Church of England is now committed to seriously consider how its investments reflect the urgency of climate change, including the option of disinvestment from fossil fuels. But, as Giles Goddard said in his closing speech, this is just the beginning. Bright Now has now a clear mandate to raise awareness and encourage enlightened discussion on fossil fuel disinvestment.

The vote fell in Go Green Week, which is organised by Operation Noah partner People & Planet and is the UK’s largest national week of student action on climate. This year the focus was on calling for universities, schools and colleges to ‘break up’ with the fossil fuel industry and go fossil free, and culminated in a day of action on Valentine’s Day.

Operation Noah’s press release on the synod vote is here.

Bookmark and Share

by Ruth Jarman, Operation Noah Board Member