Church of England assembly overwhelmingly backs environmental motion

Resolution was proposed by Southwark Diocese

A motion on environmental investment issues at the Church of England’s general assembly, the General Synod, was overwhelmingly backed by delegates in a vote today (February 12).

The resolution, proposed by Canon Giles Goddard of the Southwark Diocese, was carried by 274 votes in favour, with one vote against and three recorded abstentions.

The motion affirmed that the Church “treats climate change as an urgent ethical issue of the utmost importance, including in its practice of ethical investment”.

Goddard said in support of his motion that he had worked closely with the Church’s Ethical Investments Advisory Group (EIAG) in the run-up to the debate.

“We need to raise this issue higher up the agenda,” he told the Synod, pointing out there was a wider expectation for the church to do more on climate change. He added: “This motion’s not the end, it’s the beginning.”Other speakers agreed that there was an urgent need for the church to set up a climate change working group.

Revd. Professor Richard Burridge, Deputy Chair of the EIAG, said the ethical panel recognises climate change is a huge ethical issue, especially via its impact on the poor.

“The transition away from fossil fuels will require sacrifice.”

He added: “I understand why some are calling for divestment [of fossil fuels]. But it’s not as simple as that.”

“Making the transition away from fossil fuels will be long and hard and will require sacrifice.”

The EIAG earlier in the week mounted what was termed a “robust endorsement defence” of the Church’s engagement with companies across a wide range of sectors.