Calls for Church of England to divest from ExxonMobil

By agency reporter
May 31, 2017

Today (31 May 2017) at ExxonMobil’s AGM in Texas, a resolution put forward by a group of institutional investors, including the Church of England, will call for the company to disclose the extent to which global action to tackle climate change will negatively impact the company’s future earnings. Here in the UK, campaigners will be calling for the Church to sell its shares in the company whatever the outcome of the resolution.

A day of action begins when campaigners gather outside Exxon's refinery  in Fawley, Hampshire, to hand leaflets to staff as they enter. Fawley is the only ExxonMobil refinery in the UK, and is the largest and most complex in Europe. Then at 4pm, faith and non-faith groups will gather for a Vigil outside Salisbury Cathedral and hand a letter into the office of the Bishop of Salisbury, the lead bishop for Environmental Affairs in the Church of England, requesting that the Church divests from ExxonMobil.

Sigurd Reimers, of Grandparents for a Safe Earth, said, "Shareholder engagement is often an excellent way to make a company more ethical. But it takes time. And we don’t have time. This resolution is a ‘step zero’ in the task of fixing ExxonMobil. It is simply asking ExxonMobil to disclose the effect of climate change on its business when we should be asking the exact opposite – for it to disclose the effect of its business on climate change. And to act on that information."

Ruth Jarman, a member of the Church of England said, "When the Church should be showing moral leadership to protect the millions of lives devastated every year by climate change, they're being taken for a ride by the very company causing the problem. By continuing to hope that ExxonMobil is going to change its stripes, the Church of England is buying cover for one of the most notorious companies blocking action on climate change, including funding climate denying politicians and fake science.

"The Church of England needs to wake up, follow the example of hundreds of other faith leaders around the world and cut its ties with these companies. The church should be filling the moral void created by these companies, not falling into it."

Alison Craig, of the Salisbury Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, said: "The resolution at the AGM is a distraction. The Church of England needs to get out of oil and gas, starting with ExxonMobil. If the motion is defeated, they must divest from ExxonMobil. If the motion goes through, they must divest from ExxonMobil."

In 2015 the Church moved to divest £12 million from tar sands oil and thermal coal from its £9 billion fund, but has resisted calls for all out fossil fuel divestment. Church Commissioners have declined to disclose the sum invested in ExxonMobil: their Annual Report discloses the identify of their top 20 holdings only.

The campaigners’ coalition includes Christian Climate Action, Fossil Free UK, Grandparents for a Safe Earth, Salisbury Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, Salisbury Greenpeace, and Time to Cycle.

More information from Christian Climate Action can be found here

*Independent Catholic News

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