19 September 2023, The Tablet

Salford is latest diocese to shun fossil fuel investments

Salford is latest diocese to shun fossil fuel investments

Jesuit Fr Paul Nicholson SJ unveils a plaque in front of Shell.

Salford is the latest diocese to announce that it is divesting completely from fossil fuels.

The diocese plans to divest from BP and Shell, two of the largest oil and gas companies, by the end of 2023. In a statement the diocese said, “In recent weeks it has become clear that both BP PLC and Shell PLC have altered their stance and are no longer ambitious enough in their decarbonisation pathways and transition plans. We would be failing in our duty to our common home and our brothers and sisters if we decided not to act.”

Salford had previously been “committed to being a responsible and active investor, using our influence to challenge companies to set ambitious targets and make the lasting change we need.”  But earlier this year, Shell abandoned plans to cut oil production each year for the rest of the decade and BP also scaled back its plans to cut oil and gas production this decade.

Operation Noah, an ecumenical charity that monitors action in the Churches on the climate crisis, applauded the news. “We at Operation Noah welcome and celebrate this decision from the Diocese of Salford,” Darrell Hannah,Bright Now chair of trustees, told The Tablet. “This means that only nine Catholic dioceses in England and Wales continue to invest in fossil fuels as well as three in the Church of England,” he added. “All the others, along with Salford, have recognised that credible stewardship of God’s precious creation and our common home demands that the Church no longer profits from the dirtiest fuels that threaten our future, our children and ourselves.”

Westminster is among those with no fossil fuel investments.
A Westminster diocesan spokesman told The Tablet, “We welcome the Diocese of Salford’s announcement in divesting from BP and Shell as part of their work towards being net zero by 2038. The Diocese of Westminster is doing its utmost to reach net zero by 2030, funding and undertaking programmes to reduce the carbon footprint of our parishes, schools and curia properties. This commitment can be monitored on our website and in our annual accounts. 

“As part of this commitment, we made a promise to divest from electrical utility and fossil fuel companies that have not taken any steps to manage their business in line with the Paris Agreement. We fulfilled that promise in 2021 and at this time the diocese does not hold shares in any fossil fuel companies. We are committed to encouraging the rest of our portfolio to progress towards the Paris Agreement target.”

On 15 September, campaigners from faith groups such as Cafod, Jesuit Missions, Faith for the Climate, Christian Climate Action and Green Christian unveiled a mock “blue plaque” outside the offices of Shell and BP in London as part of three days of international action, billed as a “global fight to end fossil fuels” ahead of a UN climate summit in New York this week, with world leaders expected to present updated targets for cutting emissions and moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Liam Finn, campaigns manager at Cafod, said, “Fossil fuel companies have known for decades that burning fossil fuels is burning the earth yet are continuing to profit from the destruction of our climate. Communities around the world who have done the least to contribute to the climate crisis are paying the price.”

The previous weekend, members of Christian Climate Action and the Laudato Si Movement, including ten religious sisters from different congregations, held a “pilgrimage for the planet” along the River Thames. More than 70 people walked from central London to the Thames barrier, reflecting on the Season of Creation. At the barrier, built to protect London from tidal flooding, they prayed for those most impacted by climate change in the global south. “We hadn’t asked God for an extreme weather event, but we were given one anyway,” said Columban sister Kate Midgley. “It was the hottest day of the year and the sixth day in a row when it was over 30C in London in September.”  


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