Webinar: New report on Church investments in major oil companies


On Wednesday 10 June, Operation Noah hosted a webinar to launch our new report, Church investments in major oil companies: Paris compliant or Paris defiant?

The webinar included a presentation of key findings of the report, as well as inspiring reflections from guest speakers. The webinar is now available to watch again and can be viewed below.

The report shows the gap between the business plans of major oil companies and the Paris Agreement targets, and calls on Churches in the UK to urgently divest from fossil fuels to tackle the climate emergency. It has received coverage in national media including the i newspaper and Telegraph.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rt Revd Dr Rowan Williams, said in response to the report: ‘The current health crisis has highlighted as never before the need for coherent international action in the face of global threat. Can we learn the lesson and apply it to the global threat of climate change? To do so means taking practical and effective steps to reduce our lethal dependence on fossil fuels, and this report challenges the Churches to take these steps as a matter of urgency.’

The webinar took place shortly after the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church announced that it had divested from BP and Total, but continued investing in four oil and gas companies. The issue is set to be debated at the Methodist Conference, which will take place at the end of June.

Revd Dr Martin Poulsom, a trustee of Operation Noah, offered reflections on why and how faith organisations are ending support for fossil fuels and investing in the clean technologies of the future.

James Buchanan and Bokani Tshidzu from Operation Noah then shared the key findings of the new Bright Now report, which was followed by responses from speakers of various Christian denominations and Q&A with our guest speakers.

Revd Dr David Pickering, Moderator of the United Reformed Church Synod of Scotland, spoke about how the United Reformed Church fully divested from fossil fuels last year and the wider impact of their decision. He offered guidance in challenging myths that can surround the debate on divestment.

Canon Giles Goddard, Vicar of St John’s Waterloo and member of Church of England’s Environmental Working Group, shared insights on the Church of England General Synod debate on divestment in 2018, the work being done through the Transition Pathway Initiative and the need for campaigning on divestment to keep up the pressure.

Sally Foster-Fulton, Head of Christian Aid Scotland, spoke about the ongoing debate on divestment in the Church of Scotland. She called for urgent action on divestment, highlighting how the climate crisis is increasing poverty among communities that Christian Aid works with.

Stephen Power SJ, former Treasurer of Jesuits in Britain who manages the Jesuits’ ethical investment strategy, outlined why Jesuits in Britain decided to fully divest from fossil fuel companies earlier this year, after several years of pursuing engagement. He highlighted the risk of investments in oil and gas companies becoming ‘stranded assets’.

Michael Pryke, former Methodist Youth President, said that the recent decision of the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church to divest from BP and Total, but continue investing in four other oil and gas companies, does not go far enough. He called for full divestment from fossil fuels, since the time for engagement with oil and gas companies has passed.

Operation Noah would like to thank the 150 people who joined the webinar live, and especially our guest speakers for their inspiring contributions. You can watch the webinar here, and please do share it with others!

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