Justin Stop Oil

Justin Stop Oil
Church Investment Bodies to Divest from Fossil Fuels

The Church Commissioners and Church of England Pensions Board have each announced they will disinvest from fossil fuels this year.

The Church Commissioners, who manage the Church of England’s £10.3bn endowment fund, have decided to exclude all remaining oil and gas majors from its investment portfolio. In 2021, they excluded twenty oil and gas majors. This new announcement now affects BP, Ecopetrol, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Occidental Petroleum, Pemex, Repsol, Sasol, Shell, and Total. The Commissioners concluded that none of these are aligned with the goals of the 2015  Paris Climate Agreement, as assessed by the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI).

The Commissioners have also signalled that they shall exclude all other companies primarily engaged in the exploration, production and refining of oil or gas, unless, by the end of this year, they are in genuine alignment with a 1.5°C pathway as outlined in the Paris Agreement.

The Chair of the Church Commissioners, former oil executive Archbishop Justin Welby, said, “The climate crisis threatens the planet we live on, and people around the world who Jesus Christ calls us to love as our neighbours. It is our duty to protect God’s creation, and energy companies have a special responsibility to help us achieve the just transition to the low carbon economy we need… The Church will follow not just the science, but our faith – both of which call us to work for climate justice.”

John Ball, the chief executive of the Church of England pensions board, explained their decision: “There is a significant misalignment between the long-term interests of our pension fund and continued investment in companies seeking short-term profit maximisation at the expense of the ambition needed to achieve the goals of the Paris agreement. Recent reversals of previous commitments, most notably by BP and Shell, has undermined confidence in the sector’s ability to transition.”

A spokesperson for Shell said, “It’s disappointing, but not surprising given its recent change in stance, that the Church of England pensions board has taken this decision. Our commitment to becoming a net zero emissions energy business by 2050 remains as strong as it ever was, and we firmly believe our strategy is aligned with the more ambitious goal of the Paris climate agreement. At the same time, we are clearly focused on capital discipline, enhanced performance and delivering shareholder value.”

In the last two years, at least ten dioceses of the Church of England have announced their intention to divest from fossil fuels, including Birmingham, Bristol, Durham, Newcastle, Norwich, Oxford, Sodor & Man, Truro, Worcester and Winchester.