(London) The body that manages Church of England funds announced on Thursday that it was excluding all major oil and gas companies from its investment portfolio, saying they were not doing enough to tackle the climate crisis. .
The Church Commissioners for England, which manage the £10.3 billion ($17.3 billion CAD) endowment fund for the Church of England, had already excluded 20 companies from its list of financial assets. two years ago.
On Thursday, the body announced that it was giving up “all remaining oil and gas companies” and others in the sector if they do not meet the targets set by the government by the end of the year. 2015 Paris climate agreements, which is far from being the case.
The Church will therefore dispose of its stakes in BP, Ecopetrol, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Occidental Petroleum, Pemex, Repsol, Sasol, Shell and Total.
None of these companies “are aligned with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement,” the statement from the Church of England read.
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader of Anglicans, believed that Christians had “a duty to protect God’s creation”.
“Companies in the energy sector have a special responsibility to help us make the transition to the low-carbon economy,” said the Archbishop, himself a former oil company executive.
“Progress has been made, but it is far from sufficient,” he said. “The Church will follow not only science, but also our faith, both of which call us to work for climate justice. »
Alan Smith, who is among the commissioners responsible for managing church funds, stressed that divesting from these companies was not a decision “taken lightly”. He assured that the Church was ready to reverse its decision if the requested criteria were met.
The Reverend Darrell Hannah, who chairs Operation Noah, a group that was lobbying for such a move by the Church of England, said it sends “a shockwave across the world” and should encourage many. others to do the same.
Welcoming that the Church of England has “clearly lost faith in the ability of Shell and other oil giants to redeem themselves”, Greenpeace UK called on investors and government to do their soul searching.
“Left to their own devices, these companies may very well let hell break loose on earth to cash in their 30 pieces of silver,” a reference to the price of Judas’ betrayal, Charlie Kronick, an adviser at the of the environmental organization.
The government should “stop rolling out the red carpet” for fossil fuel giants “while stopping licensing new oil and gas projects now,” he added.
Christian Aid, meanwhile, saw the decision as a “damning indictment of the harm these companies are doing to the world”.