Church of Ireland lags behind the Irish Dáil on ethical investments
The Church of Ireland has always been slow to change. On ethical investments it is now even lagging behind the Irish parliament.
This week the the Dáil, took a step closer to becoming the first country in the world to fully divest from fossil fuels. An Independent TD, Thomas Pringle, introduced his private member's bill on fossil fuel divestment saying it would send an important signal to the world. Speaking about global oil corporations he said,
"This principle of ethical financing is a symbol to these global corporations that their continual manipulation of climate science, denial of the existence of climate change and their controversial lobbying practices of politicians around the world is no longer tolerated,"
"We cannot accept their actions while millions of poor people in underdeveloped nations bear the brunt of climate change forces as they experience famine, mass emigration and civil unrest as a result."If the Bill passes into law it would mean the 8 billion euro Strategic Investment Fund must sell its investments in fossil fuel industries over the next five years.
(See a report from the Belfast Telegraph and an excellent blog post from Trócaire)
Fossil fuel divestment was raised at the Church of Ireland General Synod in May 2015. In my speech I echoed the words of Archbishop Alan Harper from 2009, when he said this about climate change,
"The church can and must exert maximum moral influence within all those societies throughout the world where Christians are to be found."I added,
“May I suggest that we act now and speak with a prophetic voice to society in Ireland in 2015. May I humbly ask that the executive committee instructs the RCB to update its ethical investment policy and announce the Church of Ireland is to divest from fossil fuel energy companies that contribute to climate change.”It now seems that the opportunity to set an ethical course on investments has been ceded to the Irish parliament.
The Church of Ireland can, and must, do better than this.