Members of the General Synod rejected a proposal to bring forward the deadline from 2023 to 2020.
During the debate, the Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, deputy chair of the Church Commissioners, said: “Unilateral, whole-scale disinvestment from fossil fuel producers in 2020, or beginning in 2020 based on assessments in 2020, would leave our strategy, and influence, in tatters.”
Walker said moving the deadline up would not motivate companies to change further and faster. “It would do the exact opposite; it would take the pressure off them,” he said. “Now is not the moment to do that.”
Bishop Walker said the 2023 deadline “accords better with our strategy” and “it gives engagement the time it needs.”
Members of the General Synod voted for a motion that affirmed the national investing bodies’(NIB) current approach to tackling climate change, which combines scrutinizing companies’ business plans through the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) shareholder engagement (including leveraging the threat of disinvestment), and increased investment in renewable energy.
The General Synod affirmed it welcomed the worldwide agreement in Paris in December 2015 to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The synod also welcomed the NIB’s disinvestment from companies focused on thermal coal mining and the production of oil from oil sands.
The synod urged the NIB to engage urgently and robustly with companies rated poorly by TPI and, beginning in 2020, to start to disinvest from the ones that are not taking seriously their responsibilities to assist with the transition to a low-carbon economy.
WCC member churches in the United Kingdom