New Church of Scotland divestment briefing launched


In recent years, the Church of Scotland has debated how to align its concerns about climate change with its investment policy – without a clear conclusion.

Christian Aid, Operation Noah, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Eco-congregation Scotland have produced a joint briefing to inform Church of Scotland members about how the Church can better address these concerns by divesting from fossil fuels.

Photo credit: Ric Lander

The Church of Scotland Investors’ Trust, which has £443.4 million of assets under management, has divested from companies with more than 15% of turnover derived from the extraction of coal and tar sands, two of the most polluting forms of fossil fuel production. However, it continues to invest millions of pounds in the major oil companies BP, Shell and Total.

The Church of Scotland has taken an active role in campaigning for climate justice in Scotland. It has joined over 40 faith groups, charities and civic bodies in calling for Scotland to become a climate-neutral nation by 2050 at the latest.

Speaking to members of the Scottish Parliament in 2018, the former Moderator of the Church of Scotland the Very Rev Dr Derek Browning said: ‘We share the earth, our common home gifted to us, with seven billion others whose descendants depend on getting our response to climate change right… we have faith that this is possible.’

As Scotland’s largest community of faith and an institution at the heart of Scottish society, the Church of Scotland can make a huge difference in influencing change. By making a commitment to divest from fossil fuels, the Church of Scotland would join over 1,000 institutions jointly valued at more than £6.5 trillion, including the University of Edinburgh, New York City and the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

The briefing concludes by arguing that divestment should form part of the Church’s wider response to climate change, including addressing emissions from travel and heating with congregations, encouraging Church members to invest wisely, encouraging Government to go further on climate change, and supporting a just transition for workers and communities dependent on the fossil fuel industry.

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