THE General Synod voted by a huge margin on Wednesday to look at
whether the Church of England should disinvest entirely from
Introducing the motion, the Revd Canon Giles Goddard (Southwark)
said that he hoped to raise the profile of climate change, and
"align the mission of the Church with its investment arm".
The motion, which was passed by 274 votes, with one vote against
and three abstentions, called on the Ethical Investment Advisory
Group (EIAG) to ensure that the Church's investing bodies were
taking the mission to combat climate change into account. It also
said that disinvestment should be one option on the table.
It also re-established the Archbishops' Council's Shrinking the
Footprint working group, and gave it a mandate to co-ordinate the
entire Church's response to environmental issues.
Canon Goddard said: "The issue of climate change is real and
it's happening, but it has dropped down the agenda." He said that
environmental issues mattered on the grounds of mission and
justice, and because of the Church's responsibility to the
The Revd Canon Richard Burridge (Universities), deputy chairman
of the EIAG, said that he welcomed the motion. "The EIAG recognises
that climate change is one of - if not the - biggest ethical
investment issue, particularly because its impact will be felt most
by the poor," he said.
The issue of disinvestment from fossil fuels was not simple,
however, and it avoided the problem of confronting the Western way
of life and excessive consumption, he said. "Making the transition
away from the fossil fuels in a fair and just way is going to be
long and hard, and requires sacrifices from all of us."
One member of the House of Laity, Tom Sutcliffe (Southwark),
moved several amendments which sought to change the focus of the
motion. One amendment was to change the motion to only condemn
"excessive" burning of fossil fuels.
But Canon Goddard said that any burning of fossil fuels was now
excessive, and the Synod voted against the amendment. Other
amendments by Mr Sutcliffe,which sought to replace a focus on
fossil fuels with a warning on population growth, were also
Several members of the Synod condemned the focus on population
growth as unfairly shifting the burden of fighting climate change
to the poor in the developing world, who generally had larger
The motion also called on the EIAG to publish the report of its
already-started review into climate change investment policy by the
end of this year.
Canon Burridge said that the EIAG had been largely successful
when it had challenged firms to cut carbon emissions. "In 2013, 72
per cent of the companies we targeted improved their emissions
management," he said.
"But make no mistake - we reserve the final option of
disinvesting from those particular companies who resist change, as
we did with the mining company Vedanta."
Christian Aid said that it welcomed the motion and the decision
to create a working group on climate change and the
The charity's senior climate-change advisor, Dr Alison Doig,
said: "Climate change is increasingly becoming one of the moral
issues of our time, and the Church has a powerful voice with which
"This positive move shows a commitment to protect the planet and
strive to help those suffering.
"The Church Commissioners are fortunate to have £8 billion under
investment. With great wealth comes great responsibility, and I'm
encouraged to see the Church taking that responsibility seriously
by reviewing its ethical investment policies."
The Synod also discussed on Wednesday changes to safeguarding
legislation, the Girl Guides' Promise, and relaxing rules on