The Church of England’s parliament voted overwhelmingly Sunday to divest from oil and gas companies unwilling to submit to guidelines and emissions goals set out in the Paris Climate Accords, Business Green reports.
The General Synod voted 247 to 4 in favor of divesting from any company that could not submit a Paris agreement-compatible plan by 2023. The church action is a step back from a stricter plan that required companies to begin pursuing a zero-emission strategy by 2020, according to Business Green.
The previous plan risked not giving oil companies enough time to comply. The church’s climate change strategy and influence over the oil companies would be “in tatters” if the church did not back off the 2020 ultimatum, Church Commissioners deputy chair David Walker said before the vote took place, according to BBC.
About $123 million of church assets are at risk for the oil companies, according to Business Green.
“If oil companies continue to drag their heels, there is nothing to stop the Church divesting earlier if they, or Synod, are not satisfied with the speed of change,” Charity Christian Aid’s head of UK advocacy Tom Viita said according to BBC.
A group of 40 Catholic institutions divested from fossil fuel companies on October 3 last year, the anniversary of the death of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment. (RELATED: Catholic Institutions Divest From Fossil Fuels)
The groups’ actions echo sentiments expressed by Pope Francis.
“It must be stated that a true ‘right of the environment’ does exist,” Francis said during a speech to the U.N. according to The Guardian. “Any harm done to the environment, therefore is harm done to humanity.”
Despite the pushes to divest from oil and gas companies over environmental reasons, a May study revealed that the economic campaigns are not effective. Many communities depend on the sector for jobs and resources, and politicians are reluctant to enact any rigorous regulations that would hurt those areas. (RELATED: Green Economist Admits Fossil Fuel Divestment Doesn’t Accomplish Anything)
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