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Church investment bodies’ 2050 target for net-zero disappoints activists

14 May 2021

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THE disparity between the different targets to achieve net-zero carbon emissions set by the Church of England’s National Investment Bodies (News, 23 April), including the Church Commissioners, sends “the wrong message about the heart of God and the fundamental imperatives of the Christian faith”, campaigners said this week.

In an open letter, 19 members of Christian Climate Action said that they had received news of the decision — to continue to work to a later deadline of 2050 — with “the utmost surprise and concern”. The 2030 target was approved by members of the General Synod last year (News, 14 February 2020).

“In order to respond to the urgency of the climate crisis, and get its own house in order, all parts of the Church have a moral responsibility to end greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible within the 2030 target, and this must include divesting from all fossil fuels,” the letter says.

“The Church Commissioners’ announcement is a big blow to morale. It sends completely the wrong message to anyone who cares about present and future generations, especially about the care of the poor in the global south, already massively affected by climate change. It sends the wrong message about the heart of God and the fundamental imperatives of the Christian faith.”

Christian Climate Action plans to gather outside Church House, Westminster, on Tuesday, 18 May, at 10 a.m., to pray for disinvestment from Shell.

The Commissioners argued again this week for the benefits of using their influence with companies and policy-makers, “thus bringing more constituents of [our] portfolio on to the same decarbonisation pathway” to net zero by 2050, the Paris Agreement target.

The Commissioners’ impact-investment analyst, Aaron Pinnock, told a pensions-services conference: “An impact strategy allows for better risk management within an investment portfolio, which allows us to not only be more responsible investors but more knowledgeable about our investments in general.

“We are keenly aware of the social and environmental impacts that we as investors can have, which is why we focus extensively on active ownership and engagement with our underlying investments and investment managers.”

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