Operation Noah is calling on Churches in the UK to urgently divest from fossil fuels in response to the climate emergency.
A new report from the Christian climate change charity, titled Church investments in major oil companies: Paris compliant or Paris defiant?, shows the gap between the business plans of major oil companies and the Paris Agreement targets, which commits to limit global average temperature increases to well below 2°C compared with pre-industrial levels, and aims for 1.5°C.
The report draws on research from a variety of key sources, including Carbon Tracker’s Breaking the Habit report and the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) 2020 State of Transition Report, both of which demonstrate that none of the major oil companies are aligned with the Paris Agreement targets.
Several UK Churches have already completed the process of divestment from fossil fuels, including Quakers in Britain, the Church of Ireland and the United Reformed Church. Earlier this year, the Dioceses of Middlesbrough and Lancaster became the first Catholic dioceses in England and Wales to divest. The report encourages the remaining Catholic dioceses to join them and more than 150 Catholic institutions around the world that have already made divestment commitments.
Several Catholic religious orders in the UK have already divested from fossil fuel companies, including the Passionists, the Congregation of Jesus, the Religious Sisters of Charity, the Presentation Sisters and the Franciscan Sisters Minoress. In February, the Jesuits in Britain – the largest religious order in the UK – announced their decision to divest from fossil fuel companies. Jesuits in Britain have equity investments of about £400 million used to finance works and projects in Britain and around the world.
The report is published as several major oil companies are set to hold their AGMs, including Shell on Tuesday 19th May, BP and ExxonMobil on Wednesday 27th May and Total on Friday 29th May. It shows that Shell and BP intend to increase oil and gas production by 38 per cent and 20 per cent respectively between 2018 and 2030, when global carbon emissions must fall by 55 per cent by 2030 in order to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5°C, according to the 2019 UN Emissions Gap report.
The report highlights that Shell and BP plan to spend huge sums on exploration and extraction of new reserves between now and 2030 ($149 billion and $71 billion respectively), when scientists are warning that the majority of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground.
The report also draws attention to the fact that BP and Shell, which spend most among the major oil companies on lobbying against climate action, belong to trade associations such as the American Petroleum Institute that have successfully lobbied for weaker environmental regulation during the Covid-19 crisis. The report strengthens the calls for bailouts to support workers, but not oil and gas corporations.
James Buchanan, Operation Noah’s Bright Now Campaign Manager, said: “All major oil companies continue to spend huge sums on the exploration and extraction of new fossil fuel reserves, as well as lobbying against climate action. The evidence is overwhelming that none of these companies are ‘Paris compliant’. We strongly encourage Churches to demonstrate moral leadership at this key moment in history by divesting from fossil fuels and investing in the clean technologies of the future.”
Picture: The Jesuits in Britain announce their decision to divest from fossil fuel companies in February. (Bokani Tshidzu).