Showing posts from November, 2016

Clergy Pensions Fund

Letter published in the Church of Ireland Gazette, 2 Dec 2016 edition. Clergy Pensions Fund The Church of Ireland Clergy Pensions Fund has a serious problem - millions of euro from the €170.5m Pensions Fund are invested in equities that are directly harming human health through air pollution.  The Lancet medical journal reported that air pollution is a “silent killer” responsible for 6.5 million deaths globally – more than HIV, tuberculosis and serious road accidents combined. In the UK and Ireland air pollution causes more than 50,000 early deaths per year.   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”.  The Church of Ireland’s ethical investment policy does not permit investments in tobacco products, but it does allow investments in fossil fuel companies. The leading cause of air pollution is burning petrol and diesel fuels in vehicles

Investing in fossil fuels is unethical

This is part 3 of a 3 part article 'Why is engagement with oil giants wrong? ' Many institutions promote ethical investment policies based on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors. The aim is identify and invest in businesses what govern fairly and reduce the negative social and environmental impact of their business. The Church of Ireland has a ESG policy and it does not invest in companies where more than 10% of profits are obtained from strategic military sales, the manufacture of tobacco products, or from coal mining activities (highest carbon emissions). The Church of Ireland Representative Church Body (RCB) ESG policy states, “RCB is committed to having a strong ‘ethical’ as well as a strong financial ‘balance sheet’.” It is good to see that the Church of Ireland aims to be an ethical investor. Burning fossil fuels causes two major problems: air pollution and climate change. Air Pollution Already air pollution from burning fossil fuels is c

We need rapid change, not a gradual shift.

This is part 2 of a 3 part article 'Why is engagement with oil giants wrong? ' The 2015 UN Paris Agreement urges governments of the world to commit to lowering emissions to ensure the global temperature increase remains below 1.5C. But it does more than that. On the level of threat the Paris Agreement says this, Climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet. The UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon, speaking in 2009 at the DAVOS summit, said, “We face only one truly existential threat. That is climate change.” In the US the Pentagon has called climate change a significant risk . Why is this the case? It is because increasing drought and flooding leads to food and water shortages, which in turn can cause social unrest, conflict and humanitarian disasters. Fragile states can quickly tip over to become failed states descending into civil wars.  These scenarios are being played out right now in Syria