THE Church Investors Group (CIG) this week claimed significant
success in raising environmental standards among British
The pressure group, whose 46 members are connected predominantly
with the Churches of Britain and Ireland, uses the £12-billion
worth of assets it controls to encourage environmentally
responsible business practices.
Part of this is the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which asks
com- panies to report their carbon emissions and adopt
emissions-reduction schemes. This year, the group prior- itised
companies that were FTSE 250-listed, were operating in a
carbon-intensive sector, and which were reluctant to engage in
The project's latest report, published last week, says that 72
per cent of the 53 companies regarded as "laggards" by CIG, have
improved their performance.
The vice-chairman of CIG, Bill Seddon, said that the report
"highlighted the key role that the engagement work of church
investors plays in promoting long-term thinking by the companies we
"Members of the Church Investors Group take seriously our
responsibility for promoting good stewardship of our planet, and
are committed to using our influential position as shareholders to
persuade companies to consider their environmental impact."
The group has also joined other influential investors in the
initiative "Aiming for A", which seeks to encourage ten of the
larger UK-listed utilities and extractive companies to aim for
inclusion in CDP's Climate Performance Leadership Index.
Among those who achieved the top A-grade for their disclosure
and performance in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions this year was
the energy supplier BG Group.
Ethical-business drive built up. The First
Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith, told Reuters
news agency on Thursday of last week that the global financial
crisis had strengthened the Church of England's drive for more
ethical business practices by making companies more receptive to
Mr Whittam Smith manages about £5.5 billion in church assets,
but said that the Church had often struggled to make its voice
heard. Things were changing, however, he said: "It's not only
companies' considering whether they are behaving as they should as
good citizens: it's also investors' preparing to line up alongside
the Church to promote better behaviour."
Ethical investment comes at a cost, about 0.7 per cent per year
of growth lost from "opportunities foregone", but the Church's fund
still made a return of 9.7 per cent last year.