Over a third of Church of England dioceses have now divested from fossil fuels!


As world leaders gather for the UN climate talks, COP27, held in Egypt this year, three more Church of England dioceses have made commitments to divest from fossil fuels. In the last few weeks, the Dioceses of Manchester, St Albans and Gloucester have made fossil fuel divestment commitments at Diocesan Synod meetings. 

This prophetic step comes as scientists are restating that we must not fund any new oil or gas projects to have a chance of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C. It also comes just a few months ahead of the 2023 deadline that the Church of England General Synod has set for divestment from oil and gas companies not aligned with the Paris Agreement.

At Manchester Diocesan Synod on 15 October 2022, a motion was passed from Salford & Leigh Deanery, proposing that the Board of Finance will not hold investments in fossil fuels. The Synod opened with a reflection by Bishop Mark Ashcroft on the climate emergency. He explained how the Lambeth Conference over the summer had brought home the fact that those who are most affected by the climate crisis are not the ones causing the catastrophe or with the resources to address it. He gave examples of a fellow bishop from Melanesia, their partner diocese in Namibia and those devastated by the floods in Pakistan earlier this year. 

Solar panels on St Barnabas, Linslade in the Diocese of St Albans

On the same weekend, the Diocese of St Albans joined a growing number of Church of England dioceses committing to divest from fossil fuel companies. The Synod motion sent a strong message on the burning of fossil fuels which is the main contributor to global heating, placing sustainability, social justice and the environment at the heart of its investment policies.

The decision to divest reaffirmed the diocese’s commitment to the Church of England’s target of reaching net zero by 2030, with the motion also encouraging greater focus on positive investments: ‘This Synod further requests the St Albans Diocesan Board of Finance to consider with those companies investing on behalf of the Diocese how to…pursue investment in accordance with Diocesan policies on social justice, sustainability, and the environment, for example in affordable homes, renewable energy, or forestry.’

The Diocese of Gloucester also voted to exclude future investment in oil and gas companies at its Diocesan Synod meeting on 5 November 2022. The Diocesan Environment Officer, Revd Cate Williams said: ‘We want not only to avoid investment in anything destructive but to positively invest in a greener future.’ The motion passed ‘welcomes the increasing amount of impact investment being undertaken’ by the Church of England’s National Investing Bodies.

In just over 18 months, the number of Church of England dioceses to make fossil fuel divestment commitments has grown to 15, from a starting point of zero. In July, the Diocese of Lincoln also shared its decision to divest from fossil fuel companies and committed not to invest in fossil fuels in the future.

These divestment commitments strengthen the calls for a fair and fast energy transition at a national level. Over the last few years, over 60 local churches in the UK and many Catholic dioceses have divested, as well as most national denominations including the Church in Wales, Methodist Church and Baptist Union.

Divest your church or local diocese

If you would be interested in getting your local church or diocese to divest from fossil fuel companies, you might find this Church of England Divestment Guide useful.

We would be delighted to hear from you if you would connect with other campaigners to encourage your diocese and the Church of England at a national level to divest from fossil fuel companies. Please get in touch with Bokani Tshidzu on bokani.tshidzu@operationnoah.org.

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