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The Church’s response to climate change: What part do Church investments play?

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Presentation on theme: "The Church’s response to climate change: What part do Church investments play?"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Church’s response to climate change: What part do Church investments play?

2 Human-induced climate change  The earth’s atmosphere is warming at an alarming rate.  Overwhelming scientific consensus is that the cause is human activity – primarily burning of fossil fuels.  Internationally, governments have agreed to limit the rise in average global temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius.

3 Impacts of climate change  Impacts are already being experienced around the world; often affecting poorer communities most severely.  Impacts include famines, droughts, severe floods, extreme weather, fires, heat waves, disease, and migration of populations.

4 A call to the Church to respond  Challenges the Church to realise that care for God’s creation and concern about climate change is foundational to the Christian gospel and central to the Church’s mission.  Calls for urgent action and a change of direction across all levels of the Church.  Was launched in 2012 and signed by notable church leaders across denominations. Operation Noah’s Ash Wednesday Declaration:

5 The Bright Now campaign was launched by Operation Noah in September 2013. The campaign calls on the Churches and the Christian community in the UK to:  disinvest from companies involved in the extraction of fossil fuels;  take a leading and influential role in public debate on the ethics of investment in fossil fuels; and  support the development of clean alternatives to fossil fuels through their investment policies. Bright Now

6 Fossil Free A global fossil fuel divestment movement  Initiated by in the USA and now spreading across Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Europe.  Targeting universities and colleges, religious institutions and civic institutions.

7 Key numbers we cannot afford to ignore:  2 degrees Celsius = limit of safe global warming.  565 gigatons = equivalent carbon dioxide emissions to give 50% chance of staying below 2 0 C warming.  2795 gigatons = equivalent carbon dioxide emissions of known worldwide fossil fuel reserves.  Therefore, 80% or more of known fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned! Do the Maths

8  Disinvestment sends a powerful message to investors and fund managers, the companies themselves, governments and the general public that investing in fossil fuels is no longer ethical.  Disinvestment movements have historically influenced social change – apartheid, tobacco, etc.  Church disinvestment would push governments to adopt stronger regulations to address climate change.  The Church has a great opportunity to demonstrate moral leadership and can be a powerful voice for change. Church showing moral leadership:

9 Campaign report This comprehensive report outlines the moral, theological, scientific and financial rationale for why disinvesting from fossil fuels is an urgent issue for UK Churches.

10 Church denominations have made commitments to address climate change Methodists Anglicans

11 National Church bodies hold substantial investments in major fossil fuel companies Methodist Church in Britain  £58 million Church of England  £60 million

12 Progress in the Church of England Motion to General Synod on climate change  Southwark Diocese put forward a Motion in July 2013 urging the Church to respond more fully to climate change.  The Ethical Investment Advisory Group is currently undertaking a review of ethical investment policy with regard to climate change.  Climate change was debated at General Synod in February 2014. Outcome of climate change debate  The Motion was passed with strong support – 274 in favour: 1 against.  It calls upon the national investing bodies to ensure that investment policy (including the option of disinvestment) is aligned with the theological, moral and social priorities of the Church.  A General Synod working group on the Environment is to be set up to monitor this.

13  In autumn 2013 Quakers in Britain announced the decision to disinvest from fossil fuels.  The decision was backed by overwhelming support from Quakers at their annual meeting.  Quakers in Britain are the first UK institution to make a commitment to disinvest from fossil fuels. Quakers in Britain commit to disinvest from fossil fuels

14  United Church of New South Wales/ACT (Australia)  Uniting Church of Christ (USA)  Unitarian Church of Australia  5 New Zealand Anglican Dioceses Other Churches already moving

15  The Church Investors Group’s stated position is to engage with companies to report their carbon emissions and adopt emissions reduction schemes – the Carbon Disclosure Project.  Operation Noah believes that a policy of influencing fossil fuel companies through investor engagement is no longer appropriate.  Fossil fuel companies show no intention of switching away from their core business model. Investor engagement: is it effective?

16  Top 200 fossil fuel companies spent almost $700 billion in the last 12 months on finding and developing new fossil fuel reserves.  Known fossil fuel reserves worldwide already far exceed what can be safely burned in order to limit global warming to below 2⁰C.  Around 80% of known reserves cannot be burned and need to remain in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change. Current business model does not support a viable future for the planet

17 Oil extraction in West Africa Open cast coal in China Hydraulic fracturing for gas in USA Tar shale oil in Canada

18 Criteria for an ‘ethical’ fossil fuel company:  Have diversification strategies away from fossil fuels  Have strategies to avoid exploiting full potential of existing reserves  Not exploit new fossil fuel reserves  Invest in carbon capture and storage  Work within safe limits for global carbon emissions. Can fossil fuel companies be ethical?

19  Financial experts are warning of the increasing financial risks of continuing to invest in fossil fuels.  Evidence shows that investment portfolios that do not include oil, gas and coal perform better.  Shareholders risk being left with stranded assets – worthless fuel stocks that regulation will prevent from being burned (referred to as the ‘carbon bubble’). Investments in fossil fuels: risky or profitable?

20 ‘The continued and dangerous rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is in large part the direct result of past investments in energy and mobility systems based on the use of fossil fuels. New investments must now assist in reversing this unsustainable trend, and quickly if the world is to have a chance of staying under a 2 0 C temperature rise.’ Christiana Figueres, UN climate chief UN climate chief calls on investors to pull their money out of fossil fuel funds

21 Quotes from supporters ‘Churchgoers need to wake up to the importance of climate justice. It’s not just an environmental issue – it’s a social justice issue.’ ‘This is about the Christian commitment to care and loving our neighbour. It requires the Churches to tackle root causes of climate change.’ ‘Disinvestment is a crucial part of the struggle to refocus our economy.’ ‘It’s time for people of faith all around the world to show leadership and take crucial steps to avoid catastrophic climate change.’ ‘Churches of the UK can have a real impact.’ ‘Is investment in fossil fuels just as unethical as investing in arms, tobacco and alcohol? Bright Now has convinced me that it is.’

22 Supporting the fossil free movement: What can you do?  Sign the online petition.  Raise awareness of the issues in your church community and with local and regional church leaders.  Raise the issue through official Church channels – work on putting forward a motion on fossil fuel disinvestment.  Write to those with responsibility for investment policy in the Church.

23 For further information and resources see the following websites:     Information and campaign resources

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