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NZ Church makes ethical promise on fossil fuel

23 May 2014


A first: the Bishop of Vanua Levu & Taveuni, the Rt Revd Apimeleki Qiliho 

A first: the Bishop of Vanua Levu & Taveuni, the Rt Revd Apimeleki Qiliho 

THE Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has be-come what is believed to be the first province in the Anglican Communion to pledge itself to divest from fossil fuels.

The diocesan synod passed a resolution on Wednesday of last week, requiring the diocese to "take all reasonable steps" to sell its shares in fossil-fuel companies by its next synod, in mid-2016.

Rod Oram, who moved the proposal, said: "Of all the ways in which we live unsustainably, it is climate change that is causing the gravest harm - right now, here and around the world - to the very ecosystem on which our existence depends."

The general manager of the Pension Board, Mark Wilcox, warned that "if a divestment programme risks having a significant financial detriment, we cannot legally divest." He cautioned that disinvestment would not be possible unless the Board could put the funds into other investments offering a similar rate of return.

Golden rule revisited

A new proposal based on a very old rule was published this week by the Institute of Business Ethics.

Towards Ethical Norms in International Business Transactions revisits the 1995 Interfaith Declaration - A Code of Ethics for International Business - which was written by Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders. It suggests that, in the intervening period, a "very substantial acceleration in world trade and investment" has given rise to the need for further work to establish a "consensus on ethical norms in international business transactions".

The author, Simon Webley, argues that the "golden rule" - "Treat others as you would like them to treat you" - is "the closest that there is to a universal norm". He suggests: "If it is applied in every instance of business interaction, and taken seriously by the parties involved, unethical behaviour is likely to be reduced, with the potential that prosperity will increase."

On Monday, Mr Webley said: "Religious expression comes into virtually all aspects of human life, and the business world is not exempt from that. . . This one core value is common to most cultures and religions. If you have got some basis for establishing trust, then more trade and investment will take place, whatever the cultures of originating countries."

On Sunday, Richard D. North, of the Institute of Economic Affairs, a free-market think tank, told the Radio 4 Sunday programme that he had misgivings about the report: "I can't see that the relationships that one has in business are remotely like the relationships one has as enjoined by Christ.

"One doesn't deploy love as Christ requires, and as this interfaith code requires. . . A business that tried to love everybody would be in the end operating much more as a charity than as a business."

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