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Fossil-fuel companies should invest profits in combating climate change, say survey respondents

09 May 2023

Church Commissioners to vote against company directors over lack of climate investment


An articulated Shell tanker lorry heads north on the A12 in 2020

An articulated Shell tanker lorry heads north on the A12 in 2020

MOST UK adults believe that oil and gas companies are wrong to make record profits without simultaneously taking steps to combat climate change, a new survey commissioned by Christian Aid suggests.

More than three-quarters — 78 per cent — of the 2181 UK adults who took part in an online Savanta poll over two days in April (published on Thursday) agreed that it was wrong for fossil-fuel companies to profit without taking responsibility for their contribution to environmental damage. More than half (54 per cent) “strongly agreed” with this. Just six per cent disagreed.

More women than men (82 per cent v. 73 per cent) agreed with this; and older people were more likely to agree with this than younger people: 86 per cent of over 55s agreed, compared with 78 per cent of 35- to 54-year-olds and 67 per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds.

Almost two-thirds of all survey participants believed that the Government should tax fossil-fuel companies’ profits, and that this tax should be paid into the Loss and Damage Fund to support communities facing the effects of the climate crisis.

The chief executive of Christian Aid, Patrick Watt, said that, around the world, it was the “people who have done the least to cause the climate crisis who are facing the gravest climate shocks”, such as damage to harvests, homes, and human life.

“Record profits by fossil-fuel companies like Shell and BP should be a wake-up call, and spur real accountability for the damage they are causing,” he said. “That’s not just Christian Aid’s view, it’s the view of an overwhelming majority of the British public. The UK Government should be ensuring that major polluters meet their moral responsibility to repair the damage they have caused to the climate.”

On Monday, the Church Commissioners — which manages the Church of England’s £10-billion endowment fund — announced that they would be voting against all directors at the upcoming AGMs of Exxon, Occidental Petroleum, Shell, and Total. This was in response to the failure of these companies to meet climate change objectives, they said.

The Acting Head of Responsible Investment at the Commissioners, Olga Hancock, said: “High energy prices produced huge profits at oil and gas companies last year — a golden opportunity to invest very significantly in the transition to a low carbon economy, and one that was comprehensively missed. So we will be supporting all the relevant climate resolutions, and voting against all of their directors.”

In 2018, the General Synod called on the Church’s National Investing Bodies to disinvest from fossil-fuel companies which were not aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement by 2023 (News, 5 July 2018).

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