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Quakers to disinvest ethically

11 October 2013

Tender: a £5 note bearing the likeness of the Quaker-philanthropist, Elizabeth Fry 

Tender: a £5 note bearing the likeness of the Quaker-philanthropist, Elizabeth Fry 

QUAKERS in the UK are set to become one of the first faith groups in the country to disinvest from fossil-fuel-extraction companies.

At their Britain Yearly Meeting in London last Saturday, they agreed that supporting such businesses is incompatible with their commitment to becoming a low-carbon community. The gathering heard that they currently had about £21 million invested in the stock market, including holdings in Statoil and BG Group.

The BG Group holding represents 2.94 per cent of the Quakers' portfolio by value, while Statoil accounts for 1.23 per cent. The final decision to disinvest rests with the portfolio's trustees, who meet next Friday.

The Meeting passed a minute that recorded their "encouragement" to the trustees: "We feel strongly that we should disinvest, and hope Trustees will take this into account in their decision-making. We want to invest in renewable energy and energy-saving schemes. Action we will take as individuals, as meetings, and as Britain Yearly Meeting Trustees, should aim to minimise damage and strengthen our advocacy position."

The Quakers decided to become a low-carbon community in 2011, and have been pressing for an energy system and economy that does not rely on fossil fuels.

Their decision comes weeks after the climate-change campaigning group Operation Noah launched Bright Now, a campaign to persuade Church and Christian communities in the UK to disinvest from fossil-fuel companies (News, 27 September).

Isabel Carter, who chairs Operation Noah, said: "This news is a huge encouragement to us, coming so soon after our launch of the Bright Now campaign. We wish to congratulate the Quakers on taking leadership on this vital issue. We urge other Churches in the UK to think seriously about following this example."

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