Speech to Synod 2016

I would like to speak about the RCB policy on climate change on page 102 of the Book of Reports. I believe the RCB needs to go back to the drawing board and re-write this policy with the aim of full divestment from fossil fuels by 2020.

There are four reasons why this needs rewritten.

1. The policy is indistinct

Last December when 195 Countries agreed in Paris to act on climate change, the RCB wrote this policy which begins,
"Climate Change and the impact of fossil fuels on the environment are extremely complex."
This is a policy that sits on the fence. (Policy)

2.  The policy is in error

In the second paragraph it states that fossil fuels will, “for the foreseeable future, remain one of the most cost efficient methods of energy production"

This is incorrect.
Bloomberg reported recently that the cost of wind energy is now cheaper than energy from new coal or gas power stations. The cost of solar power fell by 50% in just 5 years.

We need an investment policy based on reality, not based on history.

3. The policy is inactive

It supports shareholder engagement but it does not follow the advice of the groups it has signed up to? How many companies have been engaged through letters and Annual General Meetings? Has each asset been carbon-foot-printed? And where are the targets for decarbonising the portfolio? None of these are mentioned.

This like the RCB has joined a gym but never actually does any work. The RCB must follow the guidelines of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change to which it subscribes.

4. It is in opposition to mission and ethos of the Church

We do not invest in tobacco companies because smoking kills. But burning fossil fuels also kills. 
  • 6 million people die each year due to tobacco.
  • 7 million people die each year from air pollution due to fossil fuels.[5]
Even in Ireland 3,400 premature deaths [2] and In the UK 29,000 deaths each year from air pollution.[3]

The Head of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan said, “Air pollution is one of the most important health risk factors globally, comparable to tobacco smoking”. 

Ladies and gentlemen,
If investing in tobacco is in opposition to mission and ethos of the Church, then investing in fossil fuels is in opposition to the mission and ethos of the Church.

Archbishop Clarke and Archbishop Jackson, last September you signed a letter in the Irish Times and Belfast Telegraph. May I quote?

"Climate change is one of the most serious challenges facing our human family. Current impacts are already too much for poor countries to bear.
A significant increase in ambition is needed to turn the current trajectory around and ensure the agreed limit of 2˚C to further warming is achievable."

Where is the significant increase in ambition with this policy?

If it is wrong to wreck the planet, then it is wrong to profit from the wreckage.

We are on broad road of investment practice that is leading to destruction.

I hope that you, your grace, might lead the RCB to turn away from such investments practices and start afresh.  To re-write a climate change policy that is consistent with the ethos and mission of the Christian church.





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