URC West Midlands Synod divests from fossil fuels


The United Reformed Church’s (URC) West Midlands Synod Trust has decided to end investments in fossil fuel companies, becoming the latest URC organisation to divest.

The Synod Trust reported at a meeting in January that it had completed its divestment process. The action is taken as part of the Synod’s commitment to reducing the human impact on the climate.

Speaking about the divestment, Revd Steve Faber, Moderator of the West Midlands Synod, said: ‘We recognise that we all need to work harder and faster to this end, and this divestment is just one step of a programme of actions that we are taking to support clean energy. We hope that our moves will be an encouragement not only to other investors, but also to businesses and consumers, as we each bear a responsibility to act to preserve and protect the planet.’

(Photo credit: Jan Huber / Unsplash)

The divestment follows the URC Mission Council vote in May 2019 to divest from companies involved in the extraction or supply of oil and gas by 2020.

The West Midlands Synod Trust has also committed to fitting solar photovoltaic (PV) cells to many of its manses from an existing refurbishment programme, as well as investigating whether it can install or subsidise solar cells on church roofs.

Revd Steve Faber continued: ‘We are commissioning a survey of our manses to determine which will be suitable to have PV cells fitted and have agreed that the work can be funded through an existing programme.

‘We will also install electric car charging points for manses wherever possible and practical. Given the urgency to act to reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere we wanted to demonstrate some practical steps that will reduce our carbon footprint. We hope others will follow suit.’

The West Midlands Synod is the sixth URC Synod to divest from fossil fuel companies, following the National Synod of Scotland, National Synod of Wales, Yorkshire, Wessex and South Western Synods. Several local URC churches have also divested: Bush Hill Park URC in Enfield, Tavistock URC in Devon, The Vines Church in Rochester, and Vine URC in Ilford. Two of URC’s colleges have divested: Scottish United Reformed & Congregational College and Northern College.

James Buchanan, who works for Christian climate charity Operation Noah on the Bright Now divestment campaign, said: ‘We are delighted that the United Reformed Church West Midlands Synod has decided to divest. This is a hugely positive response to the climate emergency. We hope many other Churches will join them in divesting from fossil fuels and investing in clean alternatives.’

The West Midlands Synod is also working towards Eco Synod accreditation with A Rocha and hopes to complete this in 2020.

Keen to get your local church to divest from fossil fuels? The next joint divestment announcement, which churches of all denominations are invited to join, will be a global divestment announcement for faith institutions in May 2020. Find out more on how you can get involved here.

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