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Diocese of Norwich votes to sell fossil fuel shares

Today the Diocese of Norwich Synod voted overwhelmingly (by 61 votes to 5) to approve a motion to divest from fossil fuels, following a thoughtful debate.

Meeting at Norwich Cathedral on Saturday November 6, the Synod approved the motion that: “The Diocese of Norwich will not knowingly hold investments, whether directly or indirectly, in companies which predominantly trade in fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal). To that end, it will disinvest from all such companies in which it has direct holdings by no later than December 31, 2021 and it will also discontinue any indirect holdings in such companies as soon as possible, and at the latest by December 31, 2022”
The Rt Rev Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich, spoke in support of the motion, but explained his “nuanced position”, especially in regard to his as lead bishop for the environment in the Church of England: “I support divestment with our diocesan funds as we do not have the resources to engage with the oil and gas companies with which we currently have shares. At the same time, I also support the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Fund policy, agreed by General Synod, of engagement. As a founder of the Transition Pathway Initiative, this policy of engagement is bringing change to boardrooms and industry practice.”

Tim Sweeting, Diocesan Secretary welcomed the decision: “We shall now be seeking a measured and responsible way of divesting from fossil fuels as part of a wider asset review. We are also working to ensure that we set clear Environmental, Social and Governance targets for our asset managers so that our investments are aligned to our Christian values.”

The Rev Dr Steven Sivyer, Rector of Martham Parish Churches, and the proposer of the motion said: “I am delighted. There was a reasoned and thoughtful debate and this is just the start of a wider move to look across our investments.  Our Christian duty is to be good stewards of God’s creation.  The purpose of this motion is so that we do not profit from the practices that are destroying our environment so that our actions are informed by our morals, which are guided by our faith.”

Earlier a small prayer vigil was staged outside Norwich Cathedral by local eco-activists who were in favour of divestment.

Read our previous story on this topic.

Keith Morris, 06/11/2021

Keith Morris
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