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Church in Wales drops tar-sands portfolio

15 April 2016

iSTOCK

THE Church in Wales will no longer invest in firms that have significant holdings in thermal coal or oil from tar sands, after the Governing Body endorsed a change to its ethical investment guidelines.

The Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, the Rt Revd John Davies, introduced a report from the Church Action for Sustaining the Environment (CHASE) group, and recommendations that the Church in Wales follow the Church of England in disinvesting from companies involved in this work.

Bishop Davies said that mankind’s “dominion” over creation must be seen as pastoral, not a freedom to despoil. The changes to the Church’s ethical investment policy were about recognising that this work caused “despoliation”.

The deputy chairman of the Representative Body, Paul Marshall (ex officio), seconded the motion, and said that the Church’s investment managers had assured them that the revised policy was workable; it would continue to achieve a good return while protecting the reputation of the Church.

Rosamund Crawford (St Asaph) said that while she supported tackling climate change and ethical investment, she believed that simple prohibition would not work. “What does achieve results is discussion and reconciliation,” she said. “Of great import is getting them on board with your point of view. We have the context, they have the money.” This report failed to address the need for ordinary people to cut their energy use and to help those in poorer nations achieve the same quality of life we have.

Bishop Davies said that those who engage with energy polluters do seek to encourage the development of renewable energy. “There is always an intention to engage in dialogue with those who are perhaps under the spotlight for misbehaving. One of the things they are very keen to do before there’s any question of disinvestment is to have a conversation.”

The motion was passed by the Governing Body.

That the Governing Body:

i receive the progress Report form the CHASE Group on developing action on Climate Change;

ii adopt the revised Ethical Investment Policy approved by the Representative Body on 19 November 2015

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