Christians tell the Church of England to get out of (S)hell

A group of 19 clergy has written an open letter to the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board asking them to divest from all fossil fuels immediately as this is exacerbating the climate emergency. All are invited to a vigil, organised by Christian Climate Action, being held outside Church House at 10am on Tuesday 18th May, the day of the Shell AGM, to pray for the two National Investment Boards to stop investing in Shell and to invest instead in funds that promote the common good.

Rev Hilary Bond, one of the signatories to the letter, said:

‘It is morally wrong to invest in the decimation of creation. We are in a climate emergency which requires that we stop extracting and burning fossil fuels immediately. Engagement with Shell as shareholders has not worked and it is time to urgently divest.’

In July 2018, Synod agreed to divest unless certain conditions were met. Christian Climate Action and those signing the letter, don’t believe they have been met. Synod agreed to divest from oil and gas companies that are not on track to meet the Paris Agreement target of limiting a global average temperature rise to well below 2°C and that that the Church would begin in 2020 to divest from companies not taking seriously their responsibilities to assist with the transition to a low carbon economy. The highly respected Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI), co-founded by the Church of England National Investing Bodies, recently found that no oil companies are on track to align their emissions with a 2°C climate pathway by 2050.

The Church claims that by investing in and engaging with the oil companies they are helping transform society, yet at the Shell AGM on 18th May the Pensions Board intends to vote against a shareholder resolution asking for Shell to align its investments with the Paris targets. 

General Synod, in February 2020, agreed that the Church would reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030. Although not legally bound by this decision, Christian Climate Action and those signing this letter would have expected that the Church Commissioners would understand that General Synod was expressing the will of the Church and that this will should be reflected in decisions made by the Church Commissioners. 

Christian Climate Action has published on their website details of how individuals can write their own letter to the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board. Anyone who can’t attend the vigil at Church House is invited to pray from home using this prayer:

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