July 4, 2014

Methodists fail to respond to grassroots call for fossil fuel divestment

Birmingham, UK — 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 [1].

Christian climate change charity Operation Noah welcomes the review of fossil fuel investments but like grassroots Methodists believes the Conference must 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 [2].

Mark Letcher, Vice-Chair of Operation Noah says, “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,” Letcher adds.

Bill McKibben, co-founder of the international climate campaign 350.org and a Methodist, says, “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.”

The Methodists’ decision was announced at the Methodist Conference 2014 that took place in Birmingham from June 26 to July 3 [3]. 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. [4] Top UN climate chief Christiana Figueres urged religious leaders to pull their investments out of fossil fuel companies, as well. [5]



Mark Letcher, Vice-Chair of Operation Noah, +44795 148 2804

Melanie Mattauch, Europe Communications Coordinator 350.org, [email protected], +49151 5812 0184


Operation Noah is an ecumenical Christian charity providing leadership, focus and inspiration in response to the growing threat of catastrophic climate change. It launched its divestment campaign Bright Now in September 2013.

[1] 2012 figures

[2] ‘Memorials’ (resolutions) to the Conference are the result of votes on the issue by local Circuits or Districts. The four memorials calling for disinvestment from fossil fuel companies were ‘declined’. Memorials on fossil fuel divestment were presented by the following Circuits:

– The West London Mission Circuit Meeting

– The Stratford and Evesham Circuit Meeting

– The Bradford North Circuit Meeting

– The Leicester (North) Circuit Meeting

– The Bristol District Synod

– The Lancashire District Synod

[3] The announcement was made by the Joint Advisory Committee on the Ethics of Investment (JACEI) on July 3 during the launch of its report “Fossil Fuels and the Future”. The Conference directed the JACEI to support the Central Finance Board in a review of investment policy and to report back in 2015.

[4] The Guardian: Desmond Tutu, “We need an apartheid-style boycott to save the planet”

[5] Christiana Figueres – St Paul’s Cathedral speech