URC Synod of Wales divests from fossil fuels

windfarm tylercasey unsplashThe United Reformed Church Synod of Wales has decided to end investments in fossil fuel companies made on its behalf.

A Synod meeting on Saturday 19 October passed a resolution on divestment that had been proposed by members of Beulah United Reformed Church in Cardiff.

The resolution asks the United Reformed Church (URC) Synod of Wales to amend its investment portfolio to exclude investment in companies that derive more than 10% of their revenues from the extraction and/or supply of fossil fuels, including thermal coal, oil and natural gas.

By divesting from fossil fuels, the URC Synod of Wales joins more than 1,100 institutions around the world with over £8.8 trillion of assets under management that are part of the global divestment movement. These include nearly half of UK universities including the Universities of Cardiff and Swansea, local councils including the Cardiff Council Pension Fund, and faith-based organisations such as the World Council of Churches and the Church of Ireland.

The United Reformed Church Synod of Wales becomes the first Church to make this decision across Wales. Their decision to divest reflects the growing public concern about the climate crisis and the Church’s responsibility to care for creation. They hope that their decision will contribute to the pressure for urgent change.

The Wales Synod joins four other United Reformed Church Synods that have made commitments to divest from fossil fuels, including the Scotland, Yorkshire, Wessex and South Western Synods. It follows a similar decision made by the United Reformed Church across the UK in May 2019.

Local churches across the Synod were encouraged to consider their impact on the environment by divesting their own investments in fossil fuel companies and by signing up to A Rocha’s Eco Church programme.

Campaigners highlight that the major oil companies are continuing to obstruct stronger action on climate change. Earlier this year, the Guardian reported that the five largest publicly listed oil and gas companies are spending nearly $200 million (£153 million) a year lobbying to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate change.

Revd Simon Walkling, Moderator of United Reformed Church Synod of Wales, said: "We have decided to divest from fossil fuels in response to the growing climate crisis. This is part of the Church’s desire to respond to the climate emergency and act for the future of our children and grandchildren, as well as the many people around the world who are already experiencing the devastating impacts of climate change."

James Buchanan, who works for Christian climate charity Operation Noah on the Bright Now divestment campaign, said: "We are delighted that the United Reformed Church Synod of Wales has taken this step, and we hope that many other churches across Wales will join them. We urge all investors concerned about the climate crisis to get out of the problem and into the solution by divesting from fossil fuels and increasing investments in the clean technologies of the future."

Published 25 October, 2019

Image: @tylercasey/unsplash.com