Methodist Council supports resolution on fossil fuel divestment

By agency reporter
October 14, 2020

The Methodist Council has voted to support a motion calling for divestment from fossil fuel companies, agreeing that further action is needed to fully implement a motion on divestment passed by the 2017 Methodist Conference. The debate had been referred to Council by the Methodist Conference in July this year.

The 2017 Methodist Conference passed a motion calling for divestment from any fossil fuel company that had "not aligned their business investment plans with the Paris Agreement target of a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees" by the 2020 Conference. Meeting the Paris Agreement goals is generally seen as our best chance of avoiding the most catastrophic consequences of the climate crisis.

The Methodist Conference debate in July 2020 followed an announcement from the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church in June that it would divest from BP and Total, but continue investing in four oil and gas companies. It continued investing in Shell, Repsol, Eni and Equinor, after the Joint Advisory Committee on the Ethics of Investment (JACEI) concluded that these companies "are aligned, or are close to being aligned, with the Paris Agreement."

The resolution passed by the Methodist Council states: "The Council supports the request that JACEI recommends that the Central Finance Board fully implements Notice of Motion 2017/209, and disinvests before the 2021 Conference from all oil and gas companies which are not currently aligned with the Paris Agreement target of a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees."

Last week, the Transition Pathway Initiative (a project supported by the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church) published its latest analysis of companies in different sectors, which showed that no oil and gas company is aligned with limiting global average temperature rises to well below 2°C, or even 2°C.

There has been growing support in the Methodist Church for full divestment from fossil fuels. In June, 260 Methodists, including 114 ministers and former Presidents and Vice Presidents of the Methodist Conference, signed a letter calling for the Central Finance Board to complete divestment from fossil fuel companies.

Five Methodist churches have already announced their decision to divest from fossil fuels including Ivybridge Methodist Church in Devon (in December 2019) and Stirling Methodist Church (in January 2020). Three further Methodist churches announced their decisions to end investments in fossil fuel companies as part of the global divestment announcement: Lancaster Methodist Church, Stroud Methodist Church and Banner Cross Methodist Church in Sheffield. They called on the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church to complete divestment from fossil fuels this year.

Martha Rand, a representative of the Methodist Youth Assembly,  who originally proposed the motion at Methodist Conference, said: "I am overjoyed that Methodist Council has agreed that JACEI and the Central Finance Board have not gone far enough in response to the climate emergency. This is vital not just for the new generation of Methodists, but also in support of our partner Churches around the world. We hope that the Methodist Church will now act with urgency to fully divest from all fossil fuel companies."

The motion was seconded at Methodist Conference by the Rev John Howard, the former Chair of JACEI, the Methodist Church’s ethical investment advisory group. He said: !I am glad that the Methodist Church has had the courage to do the right thing, given the severe and urgent nature of the climate crisis."

James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Manager at Operation Noah, said: "We would like to thank the Methodist Council members and all Methodists who have supported this resolution on fossil fuel divestment. Given that no oil and gas companies are aligned with the Paris Agreement targets, the Central Finance Board should now commit to full divestment from all fossil fuel companies."

* Read the Transition Pathway Initiative analysis here

* Operation Noah is a Christian charity working with the Church to inspire action on the climate crisis. It works with all Christian denominations.

* Bright Now campaign


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