Methodist Conference votes overwhelmingly to disinvest from coal and tar sands


Today, the Conference of the Methodist Church in Britain voted unanimously to disinvest from coal and tar sands by 2017. The Conference also asked the Church’s ethical investment body to report back on possible further disinvestment from other fossil fuels by 2016.

This follows a revised policy on climate change and investment published by the Methodist Church earlier this year, which set criteria for disinvesting from coal and tar sands but did not make an explicit commitment to take immediate action.

Those speaking during the debate argued for disinvestment from an industry that has failed to respond to climate change for more than 20 years, threatening to push the global climate beyond 2 degrees C warming. One representative from West Yorkshire Methodist District, which earlier this year voted overwhelmingly for the Church to disinvest from coal, oil and gas, said, ‘The argument for disinvestment is based on the gospel imperative to love our neighbour. How can we love God if we fail to halt the threat to the Earth he created?’

Eight resolutions urging the Church to disinvest have been passed by Methodist Circuits and Districts over the last two years. This year, four motions called on the Church to disinvest from all fossil fuels by 2018.

The decision today follows an announcement from the Church of England in March that it has disinvested £12 million from coal and tar sands companies. The Church of England will debate a motion calling for further progress on disinvestment at its General Synod next week.

The Methodist Church and Church of England join dozens of Churches and faith communities disinvesting around the world, including the Church of Sweden, the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation and the Quakers in Britain. Over the last several years, more Churches have disinvested than any other kind of institution, playing a central role in the global movement to move money away from the fossil fuel industry.

Speaking after the vote, Revd David Haslam, who proposed the motion, said, ‘This resolution was a real step forward in the ongoing debate about how best to pressurise fossil fuel companies to change their destructive ways.’ During his speech to Conference, he also urged for ‘passion and protest’ on behalf of the people affected by climate change around the world.

Ellie Roberts, disinvestment campaigner for Bright Now, says, ‘The decision today – carried unanimously by Conference – sends a clear message about how strongly the Methodist Church opposes coal and tar sands exploration, which is entirely inconsistent with global efforts to keep temperature rise below 2?C. We hope the Church will continue to add its moral weight to this global movement by working towards disinvestment from other fossil fuels, including companies such as Shell and BP that hold significant investments in tar sands and other unburnable reserves.’

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