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Christian Aid: Church of England reading last rites to dirty energy industry

30 April 2014 - Christian Aid has welcomed the Church of England’s decision to divest from the most polluting fossil fuel companies, signalling dirty energy has no future in a low carbon world.

In a statement to be released on Friday, the Church Commissioners, which oversee the Church’s investment portfolio, will state that it will divest from any company that derives more than 10 per cent of its revenue from the extraction of thermal coal or tar sands oil. The church has also promised to divest from companies which ‘do not take seriously’ their responsibilities to assist with the transition to a low carbon economy.

Christian Aid’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Christine Allen, said: “The Church of England has effectively read the last rites to the coal and tar sands industry.  The message must be heard loud and clear; they have no place in a sustainable future, and ultimately other fossil fuels don’t either.

“The openness to further divestment from intransigent companies must be heard as a final warning to the energy industry: shift investment out of fossil fuels and into renewables or your investors will do so for you. Every pound divested by churches, public institutions or individuals is a sign that we are serious.

“As the book of Matthew says, ‘where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ We look forward to seeing the Church of England using more fully its influence as both a moral voice and a major investor, to set a vision for a better world.”

Ms Allen said she understood that for some within the church this announcement will not have gone far enough and she was keen to encourage discussion within the church about how it can make the strongest possible contribution to tackling climate change.

She said: “We recognise that there is lively debate within the church on this topic and many will be looking for this announcement to open the door to greater ambition from the church in the coming years as the details are fleshed out.

“We look forward to working with churches across the UK to help them speed up the world’s transition to a zero carbon economy.  This move by the Church of England is a good first step but ultimately the world needs larger economic shifts to take place and leave fossil fuels behind for good.”

“We agree with the Church Commissioners that there needs to be sustained efforts on multiple fronts to ensure a safe and prosperous planet including divestment, investor engagement and changes in public policy. 

Ms Allen welcomed the church’s emphasis on the impact of climate change upon those who did the least to cause it.

She said: “It is good that the church recognises the plight of poor countries which suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change. We know that with investment in low carbon technologies and renewable energy the developing world can both grow and be green, leapfrogging the dirty energy of the past.

“Delivering climate finance will be crucial for a successful UN climate deal which will be signed this December in Paris.”

Ms Allen said that from speaking with supporters and churches around the country she sees climate change becoming an increasingly important issue for people in the pews. More than 50,000 actions to tackle climate change have been made by supporters as part of Christian Aid’s One Million Ways campaign and more than 10,000 people are expected on June 17 to take part in a mass lobby of the new Parliament.

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For more information contact Joe Ware at jware@christian-aid.org. The 24 hour Christian Aid press duty phone is 07850 242950.


Notes to editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.

3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk

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