Church of Scotland Investors Trust to announce disinvestment from oil and gas

After years of passionate debate, the General Assembly will hear that the Investors Trust of the Church of Scotland has disposed of all its oil and gas shares, completing a switch over two years into sectors with better investment prospects.

This year's General Assembly will look at what the Church of Scotland can do to reduce our impact on the planet
This year's General Assembly will look at what the Church of Scotland can do to reduce our impact on the planet.

In addition, the Assembly will consider ambitious plans to move the Church to net zero carbon by 2030.

In its report the Church of Scotland Investors Trust explains that this was the final stage in a process of reducing investments in oil and gas companies, which its managers believed would find difficulty in transitioning to sustainable energy businesses.

Brian Duffin, Chairman of the Investors Trust said: "From the outset, the Trust has committed to supporting the UN Paris Agreement and is signing up to the new 'Net Zero' agreement announced last week for asset owners and fund managers globally.

"Climate Change is an enormous challenge for all of us, from governments to individuals, and church investors should be in the vanguard of change.

"Acting together, investors can accelerate changes in corporate strategy and build sustainable economies, but must also be responsible stewards of God's creation."

Any future investment in the oil and gas sector would require "agreement between the Church of Scotland Investors Trust and the Faith Impact Forum that there was good evidence that its strategy and implementation was aligned with the stringent targets set by the Paris Agreement".

The Assembly will also be asked to approve the creation of a special committee of five people to make recommendations on how ethical considerations can be applied to investing.

During a year when Scotland will host the COP26 UN Climate summit, the Faith Impact Forum will make proposals for how the Church could work towards net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The Faith Impact Forum's climate change proposals are just part of a range of proposals aimed at building "a just and green future".

Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, convener of the Faith Impact Forum said: "We need to listen to the voices of young people in Scotland and throughout the world. We need to listen too, to the voices of our partners who are bearing the devastating brunt of the consequences of the climate emergency. We need to take seriously their fears and their suffering.

"It is challenging in so many ways but we are called to care for the gifts God has given us - and the alternative is to deny God's love for all his hands have made.

"I am not sure we have much choice. For love's sake."

Bringing the Church to net zero by 2030 will mean reviewing energy consumption across the Church and including goals to reduce carbon emissions in future planning.

The Scottish Government is currently calling for the whole country to be carbon-neutral by 2045, and part of this will include legislation that will affect how congregations operate.

The Forum will ask the Assembly to encourage congregations to hold public meetings to discuss what a just and green future following the pandemic means to the people in their area.

Commissioners will also be asked to urge congregations "to prepare for COP26 UN Climate summit, by using the Climate Sunday prayer and worship resources and consider how they can respond in prayer and action". The summit is scheduled to take place in Glasgow between 1 - 12 November 2021.

The Forum will ask the UK Government to provide safe and legal routes for asylum seekers and to restore the Overseas Development Assistance budget to 0.7 of gross national income, recognising the devastating impact of climate change on partner churches around the world whose members are least responsible but most vulnerable to the harms of climate change.

It is estimated that 25 million people are displaced each year around the globe due to climate disasters.

Read the report of the Church of Scotland Investors Trust

Read the report of the Faith Impact Forum