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Church investors call on petroleum firm to sever ties with Russian companies

18 March 2022


The Donges refinery near Saint-Nazaire, France, which is operated by the petroleum firm TotalEnergies

The Donges refinery near Saint-Nazaire, France, which is operated by the petroleum firm TotalEnergies

CHURCH investors have called on TotalEnergies, in which they have holdings, to “urgently reconsider” its decision not to sever ties completely with Russian companies.

The appeal is made in a joint letter sent by the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board on Tuesday. In the letter, addressed to the chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies, Patrick Pouyanné, the investment bodies express “deep concern related to your decision not to withdraw completely from the Russian market and disinvest your holdings in Russian operations”.

The letter continues: “As we watch the daily destruction of a democratic country by Russian aggression and the heroic defence by the Ukrainian people, it is clear that TotalEnergies’ position is incompatible with maintaining a social licence to operate.”

Shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, the Church of England announced its intention to disinvest from its “direct holdings” in Russian companies (News, 4 March).

TotalEnergies, a French petroleum company, has condemned the invasion, and said that it will no longer buy Russian crude oil, but it has not jettisoned investments in Russia. The British energy companies Shell and BP have pledged to ditch their investments in Russia.

Church House would not provide details on the extent of the holdings in TotalEnergies.

The company has also been condemned by environmental NGOs for its failure to cut ties with Russia. Greenpeace France and Les Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth France) wrote to Mr Pouyanné to warn that a continued commercial relationship with Russia was likely to “fuel the violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

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