United Reformed Church Synod of Wales divests from fossil fuels


The United Reformed Church Synod of Wales has decided to end investments in fossil fuel companies. A Synod meeting on Saturday 19 October passed a resolution on divestment proposed by members of Beulah United Reformed Church in Cardiff, which was the first local church in Wales to divest from fossil fuels.

The resolution asks the United Reformed Church (URC) Synod of Wales to amend its investment portfolio to exclude investment in companies that derive more than 10% of their revenues from the extraction and/or supply of fossil fuels, including thermal coal, oil and natural gas.

By divesting from fossil fuels, the URC Synod of Wales joins more than 1,100 institutions around the world with over £8.8 trillion of assets under management that are part of the global divestment movement. These include nearly half of UK universities including the Universities of Cardiff and Swansea, local councils including the Cardiff Council Pension Fund, and faith-based organisations such as the World Council of Churches and the Church of Ireland.

The United Reformed Church Synod of Wales becomes the first Church to make this decision across Wales. Their decision to divest reflects the growing public concern about the climate crisis and the Church’s responsibility to care for creation, as well as their desire for urgent change.

Revd Simon Walkling, Moderator of the United Reformed Church Synod of Wales, pictured with paper chains as a symbol of our interconnectedness

The Synod of Wales joins four other URC Synods that have made commitments to divest from fossil fuels, including South Western Synod, which also decided to divest on the same weekend. The URC Synods of Scotland, Yorkshire and Wessex had previously divested from fossil fuels. Members of the United Reformed Church Mission Council voted unanimously for divestment from fossil fuels in May 2019.

Local churches across the Synod of Wales were encouraged to consider their impact on the environment by divesting their own investments in fossil fuel companies and by signing up to A Rocha’s Eco Church programme.

Campaigners highlight that the major oil companies are continuing to obstruct action on climate change and invest huge sums in the exploration and extraction of new fossil fuel reserves, when the vast majority of known reserves must remain in the ground if we are to avoid climate catastrophe. Earlier this year, the Guardian reported that the five largest publicly listed oil and gas companies are spending nearly $200 million (£153 million) a year lobbying to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate change.

Revd Simon Walkling, Moderator of United Reformed Church Synod of Wales, said: ‘We have decided to divest from fossil fuels in response to the growing climate crisis. This is part of the Church’s desire to respond to the climate emergency and act for the future of our children and grandchildren, as well as the many people around the world who are already experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change.’

James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Manager for Operation Noah, said: ‘We are delighted that the United Reformed Church Synod of Wales has taken this step, and we hope that many other churches across Wales will join them. We urge all investors concerned about the climate crisis to get out of the problem and into the solution by divesting from fossil fuels and increasing investments in the clean technologies of the future.’

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