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Church of England's General synod debates environmental issues

General Synod re-affirms the Church of England's commitment to play a leading role in the effort to prevent dangerous climate change

General Synod today voted in favour of a motion, brought by the Diocese of Southwark, which re-affirms the Church of England's commitment to play a leading role in the effort to prevent dangerous climate change, including through the Church's ethical investment activities.

The passing of the motion makes clear Synod's desire that the Church's National Investing Bodies continually ensure that their investment policies are 'aligned with the theological, moral and social priorities' of the Church on climate change.

The investing bodies adopted an ethical investment policy on climate change in 2008 but such is the EIAG's concern about trends in greenhouse gas emissions that the policy is already under review.

The motion was proposed by Canon Giles Goddard, Priest in Charge of St John's Church, Waterloo, in the Diocese of Southwark.  It does not prescribe how the Church of England should align its investment practice with the Church's stance on climate change nor does it back the calls of some US environmentalists for complete disinvestment from fossil fuel companies.  However, the motion does call for the merits of the exclusion of some companies from investment to be considered as one of the ethical investment tools available to the EIAG.  

The Rev Prof Richard Burridge, Deputy Chair of the EIAG, who spoke after Canon Goddard in the debate and supported the motion, said: "There are many ways of practising ethical investment including active engagement with companies and policy makers.  Carbon emissions remain so embedded in our economic system that the EIAG's ethical investment policy recommendation will need to be sophisticated.  The Synod vote for this motion affirms the will of Synod that the Church of England treats climate change as an urgent ethical issue of the utmost importance, including in its practice of ethical investment."

Professor Burridge said in the course of the debate that the National Investing Bodies would publish a new policy on climate change in 2015 once the EIAG had completed its review in 2014 and the investing bodies had had a chance to consider the EIAG's recommendations.

As a result of the motion, the Church will also be reviewing organisational arrangements for co-ordinating and developing the Church's strategic and local response to climate change.*

ENDS

Notes

* An amendment to the motion (leaving out paragraph (e)(iii) in the original motion) was passed,  which requested:

"the Archbishops' Council to reconstitute the Shrinking the Footprint working group, so that it reports direct to the Council, to monitor, facilitate co-ordination and promote the responses of all parts of the Church of England to environmental challenges."

The original speech on the motion is available here:
http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1924529/item%2013%20speech%20giles%20goddard.pdf

The explanation notes on the motion are available here:
http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1910003/gs%201942a%20-%20southwark%20dsm%20background%20note.pdf
and
http://www.churchofengland.org/media/1910033/gs%201942b%20-%20background%20note%20from%20eiag.pdf

Information about Shrinking the Footprint can be found at www.shrinkingthefootprint.org.uk