Positive moves on fossil fuel investments
Here is a letter published in the Church of Ireland Gazette this week.
I was delighted with the way General Synod received the motion on climate change and fossil fuel investment! This is a change of direction for the RCB. They now accept that climate change is a serious problem, it’s impacting the poor hardest, and that urgent action is required by the church and society at all levels to shift to a low carbon economy.
Has there been an epiphany in Dublin? Yes there has, for the climate change policy now focuses on reducing fossil fuel exposure and investing in an expanding green sector that offers good returns. These are positive signs.
The motion means that the RCB no longer invests in coal and tar-sands, and investments in oil and gas producers have reduced by 70% in recent years. I hope that the review in 2020 will result in 0% exposure to fossil fuels. There is a parallel to tobacco. The RCB excludes all tobacco products due to public health concerns. The British Medical Associate recommends divestment from all fossil fuel producers because of the harm to human health.
Regarding the policy of engagement, more than 10% of RCB investments are now in ‘bonds’ issued from banks like the AIB, Bank of Ireland, Barclays and JP Morgan. The RCB needs to engage with the each bank and ask about their environmental, social and governance investment policy. We don’t want unethical investments hidden under the ‘bonds’ carpet.
I know the RCB is keen to encourage initiatives at parish and diocese level. Perhaps the ‘Parish Resources’ website can develop a guide for parishes to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon-footprints, and save on bills.