Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams urges Church to sell off its oil investments to take a stand over climate change
- Williams said the Church should ‘do more than hand-wringing or exhortation’
- The Church of England has invested £101million in Shell and £92million in BP
- Successor Justin Welby argues the Church retains influence by holding shares
- It comes on the eve of a crucial debate on climate change at the Synod today
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is demanding the Church of England withdraws hundreds of millions of pounds invested in oil giants – accusing them of dragging their feet over climate change.
The call, which puts him at loggerheads with his successor Justin Welby, comes on the eve of a crucial debate at the Synod today.
Lord Williams said: ‘The Church can do more than hand-wringing or exhortation’ over an issue that ‘threatens to overwhelm us’, adding that multinationals such as Shell – in which the Church has invested £101 million – are treading water.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (pictured) is demanding the Church of England withdraws hundreds of millions of pounds invested in oil giants
Activists also accused both BP, in which the Church has invested £92 million, and ExxonMobil of failing to tackle carbon emissions.
Synod members will today demand the Church adopts ‘a more rigorous and urgent’ stance on climate change by automatically withdrawing funds from companies that fail to abide by international agreements by 2020. Its current policy, endorsed by former oil executive Welby, is based on the idea that the Church can influence energy firms by retaining shares.
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But in an article on the Daily Telegraph’s website, Lord Williams questioned whether efforts to engage were working. He said: ‘Reasoned but bold intervention… is one clear way Christians can discharge their responsibility to witness to the possibility of a world where we have at last recognised that the only just human future is one where we acknowledge the neighbour’s jeopardy as ours too.’
A spokesman for the Church’s investment arm said: ‘To secure the shift to a low-carbon world, investors must make sustained, long-term use of all tools at our disposal, including disinvestment, investment and engagement with companies.’
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