Despite unprecedented pressure from local churches, the Methodist Conference failed to commit to end its investments in fossil fuels. It announced that it will review its policy, with no decision for at least 12 months. The Methodist Church has investments in fossil fuel companies worth £58 million (2012 figures).
Mark Letcher, Vice-Chair of Christian climate change charity Operation Noah:
“Whilst I welcome the decision to review fossil fuel investments, I am disappointed that the Methodist Church has not decided to grasp the nettle and begin disinvesting from this sector, particularly coal, right away, despite strong calls from its own members.”
“Multimillion pound investments in companies determined to develop new reserves of coal, oil and gas are incompatible with policies to prevent uncontrolled global warming – facts that are recognised by a growing number of Churches in the UK and abroad.”
Just like grassroots Methodists, Operation Noah calls on the Conference to move rapidly to divest from fossil fuels. This year’s Methodist Conference received six resolutions (“memorials”) about investments in fossil fuels from local Circuits or Districts, four of which called for divestment.
Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org and a Methodist:
“I’m confident it’s only a matter of time before the Methodists are in the forefront of this campaign. But since Creation already groans under the weight of our carbon emissions, I hope this time is short indeed.”
While the Methodists fail to respond to the call for fossil fuel divestment, other religious institutions are active leaders tackling the climate crisis and protecting creation. Dozens of churches around the world, from Anglicans in New Zealand to Quakers in the United Kingdom, have divested their holdings. In the United States, the United Church of Christ and Unitarian Universalists have supported divestment at the national level.
Christian leaders around the world are calling for churches to divest from fossil fuels. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has recently called for an “apartheid style boycott” of the fossil fuel industry. Top UN climate chief Christiana Figueres urged religious leaders to pull their investments out of fossil fuel companies, as well.
Operation Noah launched its campaign for church divestment Bright Now in September 2013.
The Methodists’ decision was announced at the Methodist Conference 2014 that took place in Birmingham from June 26 to July 3.