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General

30.09.2021

Church of Ireland to Divest from Fossil Fuel Extraction by 2022

The Church of Ireland is to complete its divestment from companies that extract fossil fuels by the end of this year, therefore meeting its target date of 2022.  The Church’s annual General Synod is taking place online from Thursday, 30th September, to Saturday, 2nd October, and this will fulfil a commitment made in resolution at General Synod in 2018, to the effect that companies where more than 10% of turnover is derived from fossil fuel extraction would – by 2022 – be excluded from investments made by the Representative Church Body (RCB).

Through its Climate Change Policy, the RCB seeks to mitigate and lower the climate change impact within its investment portfolios and has taken several steps in this regard over the past number of years, including collaborative engagement, investments in wind and solar energy and forestry, the implementation of restrictions for investments in coal mining and tar sands, and several disposals and divestments.

The policy relates to direct investments and exposure via acquisition and/or takeovers is reviewed on a case–by–case basis by the RCB’s Investment Committee, which will continue to monitor and review companies that appear not to be aligned with the long–term transition to a low–carbon economy and engage and/or divest as considered appropriate.

The RCB is also a member of the Church Investors Group (CIG) and the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), which provide investors with a collaborative platform for engagement with public policy–makers and the exchange of expertise on climate change issues.  It is also a founding signatory and supporter of the Climate Action 100+ initiative which engages with the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters with a view to curbing emissions, strengthening climate disclosures, and improving climate governance.

 

The General Synod is the governing body of the Church of Ireland, a member church of the Anglican Communion, and has taken an interest in environmental issues through its resolutions since 1994, when it proposed that parishes consider ending the use of tropical hardwoods (except from managed forests) in church buildings.  In 2006, a further General Synod resolution asked members of the Church to use and promote Fairtrade products where possible. 

Environmental Charter

The Church of Ireland Environmental Charter was approved by General Synod in 2015 and asks all parishes to play their part in the stewardship of creation, by recognising and reducing waste, increasing their environmental awareness, exercising leadership through environmental responsibility, identifying spiritually and practically with the developing world, and influencing policy.

Divestments

The General Synod passed its first resolution on climate change and fossil fuels in 2017, to exclude companies whose turnover (in excess of 10%) is derived from the production of coal or tar sands, and to increase its investment exposure to green alternatives.  The subsequent 2018 resolution set a target date of 2022 for divestment from fossil fuel extraction.

Eco–Congregation Ireland

The Church has also been a member of Eco–Congregation Ireland since its foundation in 2005 – Eco–Congregation Ireland is an ecumenical initiative to encourage Christians to celebrate the gift of God’s creation, recognise the inter–dependence of all creation, and care for it in their life and mission and through members’ personal lifestyles.

 

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