Comments on the RCB Climate Change Policy 2017


The RCB has released an updated 2017 Policy on Climate Change and it is much improved over the 2016 version.

Gone is the opening line, “Climate change and the impact of fossil fuels on the environment are extremely complex”. A much better statement in the first paragraph reflects a more realistic position,
“the RCB on behalf of the Church of Ireland seeks to mitigate and lower the Climate Change impact within its investment portfolios”.
The most galling sentence in the 2016 policy was this one, “the fact is that fossil fuels will continue to contribute a major component of this energy mix for the foreseeable future and remain one of the most cost efficient methods of energy production.” This sentence has also gone. The fact is that renewable energy is already much cheaper than fossil fuels in much of the world. In the new policy the emphasis is on reducing fossil fuel exposure is repeated multiple times in the 2017 policy. This new emphasis is great news.

Shareholder engagement with oil giants is something I am not a fan of. It is not effective and has achieved little change in the fossil fuel industry. Bright Now produce an excellent publication called 'Otherwise Engaged' which explains why it's not a good use of time. It is interesting that the updated policy mentions shareholder engagement in the last paragraph. Has it slipped in priority for the RCB? The emphasis in the earlier paragraphs is on reducing exposure to oil and gas, and increasing investments in green alternatives.

Saying that, engagement with companies apart from oil and gas giants is increasingly required. The Book of Reports for 2017 indicates that many of top ten investments are now in bonds. The Church of Ireland needs to ensure its bonds are issued by banks and financial institutions who themselves are not heavily invested in fossil fuels.

All in all, this is a much better policy that the original 2016 version.

Well done the RCB.

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