Ethical investments

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Is it ethical to invest in fossil fuels? Reflections from Christian theologians, scientists and environmentalists summary paper
A fuller version of the same paper is available here
Bishop David Atkinson’s paper 'Climate Change and the Gospel' - Why we in the churches need to treat climate change more urgently’ is available here
Church of England's press release on 30th April 2015 regarding the national investing bodies and the transition to a low carbon economy.
The Church has taken a positive and progressive first step towards disinvesting coal and tar sands from their portfolios. However, the Church can do more. It can heed Desmond Tutu’s call to break all ties with ‘corporations financing the injustice of climate change’.

·     80% of fossil fuels need to be left underground to keep temperature rise below 2°C. Despite this, the fossil fuel industry continues to base its business strategy on expanding fossil fuel extraction into the second half of this century, with Shell exploring Arctic oil and BP developing tar sands extraction inCanada.

·     A growing number of Churches around the world are already committing to disinvest from fossil fuels; these now include the Church of Sweden, the World Council of Churches, Quakers in Britain, the United Reformed Church (URC) of Scotland, the Uniting Church in Australia and Anglican dioceses in New Zealand and Australia.

·     In working as churches to speak out prophetically in the face of climate change, we need to consider how we can best challenge the fossil fuel industry’s social licence to continue with business-as-usual plans, as well as its political power. Divestment movements throughout history – from South Africa to tobacco – show that when the social and political licence of an industry is weakened, it becomes more possible for governments to take bold action.

·    Fossil fuel investments are becoming increasingly risky. The Bank of England, World Bank, HSBC, MSCI and others have warned that fossil fuel assets could become ‘stranded’ or worthless if legislation to reduce carbon and other emissions is implemented, posing long-term financial risk to the Church’s investments. Growing numbers of studies show that fossil free portfolios can outperform those invested in fossil fuels.



Click here for the Guardian report on discussion at General Synod in July at York.