As individuals and communities around the world continue to face deadly impacts from climate change, Anglicans throughout the Communion are joining cities, municipalities, and other religious bodies to break the social license of fossil fuel producing companies in order to force them to invest more rapidly in sustainable energy.
In a recent synod resolution, the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia elected to divest from fossil fuels by mid-2016, making it the first province in the Anglican Communion to divest:
Rod Oram, who moved the proposal, told synod that it “gives us the opportunity to offer leadership on, and to make a practical response to, climate change.
“Thus, it speaks to two marks of our Christian mission: care of creation and righting unjust social structures…
“Of all the ways in which we live unsustainably,” he said, “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.”
And climate change, he said, is being driven “simply by pumping a rapidly rising volume of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases” into the atmosphere.
Mr Oram, who is a journalist specialising in economic issues, said one of the key needs was to “shift the weight of investment away from fossil fuels into sustainable forms of energy” – and that had led to a worldwide campaign to persuade investors to sell their shares in fossil fuel companies.
While the ethical imperatives for divesting are clear, Mr Oram said, there are also a number of practical financial reasons – to do with safeguarding returns for investors – for doing so.
Two of the wealthiest Episcopal institutions in the United States-Trinity Wall Street and the Church Pension Fund-hold a combined total of over $10 billion dollars in assets making them two of the strongest players in the Anglican Communion. If Episcopalians like our sisters and brothers in New Zealand and Polynesia wish to change unjust social structures and care for creation, can we do the same?
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