Join the next global divestment announcement ahead of COP27


UPDATE: Our next Global Divestment Announcement – originally planned for next month – has been pushed back to April 2023 to coincide with Earth Day celebrations and give institutions more time to coordinate divestment commitments. Rescheduling also means our next announcement will take place during a crucial period for the Church of England, which has pledged to divest from all oil and gas companies not aligned with the Paris Agreement by July 2023.

Together with our friends at Laudato Si’ Movement, World Council of Churches, Green Anglicans and GreenFaith, Operation Noah is delighted to launch the next global divestment announcement for faith institutions.

The announcement will take place the week before the UN climate talks, COP27, to be held in Egypt this year. It is also just a few months ahead of the 2023 deadline that the Church of England General Synod set for divestment from oil and gas companies not aligned with the Paris Agreement.

By divesting from fossil fuel companies this autumn, churches and other faith institutions can send a positive message to the UK Government that we must accelerate the transition to renewable energy and that it is unethical to profit from the instability and conflict fuelled by the oil and gas industry.

Over the last few years, over 60 local churches in the UK and many Catholic and Church of England dioceses have divested, as well as most national denominations including the Church in Wales, Methodist Church and Baptist Union. This announcement offers an opportunity for the remaining Catholic and CofE dioceses to join them and use their influential voices to call for a fair and fast energy transition. 

Extreme weather in Europe and around the world

This summer, the UK and rest of Europe have suffered unprecedented heatwaves, droughts and wildfires as a result of global heating caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Extreme weather has also caused devastation in Pakistan with floods, submerging over a third of the country under water, killing more than a thousand people and displacing over 33 million people. António Guterres, UN Secretary General, said: ‘Let’s stop sleepwalking towards the destruction of our planet by climate change. Today, it’s Pakistan. Tomorrow, it could be your country.’

Fossil fuels, conflict and human rights

The conflict in Ukraine has now passed the grim milestone of six months. Although the Church of England’s National Investing Bodies pledged to reconsider its shareholding in TotalEnergies if it failed to cut ties with Russian suppliers, they continue to invest in Total. The fossil fuel industry has destabilised many regions and resulted in human rights violations as well as environmental degradation. This prioritisation of profits ahead of life further erodes the moral case for continued investment in oil and gas companies. 

Fossil fuels and the cost of living crisis

This winter, the UK faces soaring costs as high energy prices contribute more to the burgeoning profits of oil and gas companies, while many churches and congregations struggle with the growing cost of living crisis. Church leaders have been among many groups calling for windfall taxes, as well as significant measures to help families this winter. It is inconsistent for the same faith institutions to invest in an industry that is profiting from the cost of living crisis. 

No new oil and gas developments in Africa or anywhere

COP27 in Egypt this year shines the spotlight on the ways in which the African continent has been impacted by the climate crisis as well as by the operations of oil and gas companies. 

As countries have sought to move away from Russian gas supplies, many have looked to increase production in Africa, contrary to the calls of church leaders and communities to end fossil fuel expansion and production. 

Last year, over 20 Anglican bishops from across Africa called for an immediate halt to all new oil and gas exploration in Africa. Bishops from South Africa, where floods earlier this year caused the deaths of over 400 people, denounced the ‘new era of economic colonialism by oil and gas companies’ which will have ‘dire consequences for all life on this planet.’

Christians around the world are united in their opposition to new oil and gas developments. During the Lambeth Conference in the UK this summer, Anglican bishops and young people from around the world called on Anglican Provinces, dioceses and parishes to stop investing in fossil fuel exploration.

Young Christian Climate Network hold a prayer vigil at the Lambeth Conference 2022

Building momentum for divestment in the Church of England ahead of 2023 deadline

In 2018, the Church of England General Synod voted to divest by 2023 from oil and gas companies that are not aligned with the ‘well below 2°C’ target of the Paris Agreement. Since then, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has emphasised the need to restrict global average temperature rise to 1.5°C. The International Energy Agency (IEA) and UN have stated that in order to limit global heating to 1.5°C, there can be no new fossil fuel developments. However, all of the major oil companies continue to explore for new fossil fuels.

An increasing number of dioceses and local churches are divesting from fossil fuel companies. In the last 18 months, the number of CofE dioceses to divest has increased to 11 from a starting point of zero. Many other dioceses do not hold fossil fuel investments, but have not yet made a formal divestment commitment by pledging not to reinvest in fossil fuel companies in the future.

This November, ahead of a crucial year in 2023, Church of England dioceses and local churches can send a strong message to the Church Commissioners and CofE Pensions Board on the need for divestment by joining the global divestment announcement.

The impact of Churches and faith institutions removing their investments and the social licence from the oil and gas companies fuelling the climate crisis cannot be underestimated. Joining the global divestment announcement is a powerful act of compassion and solidarity, providing an excellent example of global collaboration ahead of the UN climate summit this November.

Join the Global Divestment Announcement: 2 November 2022

If you would be interested in getting your local church, regional Church structures (dioceses and equivalents) or religious order to make a divestment commitment, we would be delighted to hear from you.

This involves making a commitment to divest (disinvest) any investments in fossil fuel companies within a five year timeframe and a pledge not to invest in fossil fuels in the future. Even if your church or faith institution doesn’t currently hold any fossil fuel investments (for instance if it only has a bank account), it can make a powerful statement by pledging not to invest in fossil fuels in the future.

Please get in touch with Bokani Tshidzu on bokani.tshidzu@operationnoah.org before 25 October 2022 for further information or to register your interest.

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