Oxford’s Diocesan Synod has passed a motion which commits it to disinvesting from fossil fuels, making it the first diocese in the UK to divest. A resolution was also passed calling on the Church of England, which still has £60 million invested in fossil fuel companies, to follow Oxford’s example.
Revd Dr Darrell Hannah, who brought forward the motion at the Oxford Diocesan Synod, was keen to emphasise its importance. He told Cherwell “I feel a real urgency of the moment. One of the IPCC reports says that we have to cap emissions by 2020 and that these emissions then need to decline rapidly thereafter. We’re not doing anything close to that.”
He added, “I think of my future when we start to feel the effects of this [climate change], and more importantly I think of my son. That really does affect me.”
The motion was passed by a majority of 52 votes to 37 against. Apart from divesting the Diocese has also committed to exploring opportunities for reinvestment in companies that specialise in the production of clean energy technologies.
Revd Hannah insisted that Oxford’s motion will not be the last, saying “It is possible that we will have quite a number of supporting motions to Oxford’s by the time it comes to General Synod. I would certainly hope that’s the case.”
Operation Noah is a Christian charity attempting to halt the advance of climate change. The charity’s Vice-Chair, Mark Letcher, commented, “We think it is likely that other Dioceses will come forward and call on the Church of England to disinvest. We also hope that other dioceses will follow Oxford’s lead by examining their own investments.”
Ellie Roberts, a divestment campaigner for Operation Noah, added “We are delighted that Oxford has called on the Church of England to disinvest, and urge UK churches to disinvest as quickly as possible.”
The Diocese of Oxford is now part of a growing number of fossil-free faith communities across the globe. The World Council of Churches, the Quakers in Britain and the United Church of Christ in the US have also all pledged to divest.
Joshua Parikh, a member of the Christian Union at Merton, commented, “Christian values include respect for and stewardship of the Earth, as well as respect for humans and animals who could be harmed by climate change. Hopefully the Diocese, and the Church of England as a whole, will logically extend this decision to the boycott of other unsustainable practices such as animal agriculture and the meat industry.”
The decision take by Oxford’s Diocesan Synod comes after Oxford City Council became the first UK council to divest from fossil fuels in September.