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Church of England divests from coal and tar sands

05 May 2015

On May 1, the Church of England announced it would no longer make any direct investments in any company where more than 10% of its revenues are derived from the extraction of thermal coal or the production of oil from tar sands. It is also divesting £12m worth of investments in these sectors.

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Stock image

This policy now applies to all investments by the Church Commissioners, Church of England Pensions Board and CBF Church of England fund.  The announcement coincided with the adoption of a new climate change policy recommended by the Church's Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) that sets out how the three national investing bodies (NIBs) will support the transition to a low carbon economy.

The three NIBs have committed to increase their low carbon investments. Currently 4% of the Commissioners' portfolio is invested in sustainable forestry, and the Commissioners are the largest private owner of UK forestry.

"Climate change is already a reality. From an ethical perspective the focus of the investing bodies must be on assisting the transition to a low carbon economy," The Rev Canon Professor Richard Burridge, Deputy Chair of the EIAG and lead on the EIAG's theological process, said.

"The Church has a moral responsibility to speak and act on both environmental stewardship and justice for the world's poor who are most vulnerable to climate change. This responsibility encompasses not only the Church's own work to reduce our own carbon footprint, but also how the Church's money is invested and how we engage with companies on this vital issue."

Bishop Nick Holtam, the lead Bishop on the environment at the Church of England, said the move "better aligns the Church's investment practice with its belief, theology and practice".

"Climate change is the most pressing moral issue in our world. Change is happening rapidly, I therefore particularly welcome the commitment to regularly review the policy recommendations in the light of our knowledge and experience," he said.

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