General Assembly to discuss ethical investment policies

The Church of Scotland's investments will be under discussion at the General Assembly, with a proposal that would urge the Trustees of the Church of Scotland Investors Trust and the Church of Scotland Pension Fund to align their investments with the Church's position on climate change.

NYA The 2015 National Youth Assembly discussed climate change and whether the Church should divest from fossil fuels.

The Church and Society Council's proposal – to be considered on Tuesday 24 May –-will urge the trustees not to invest in companies which derive more than 15% of their turnover from extraction and/or sale of thermal coal and/or oil extracted from tar sands. The trustees already operate a similar policy regarding tobacco, gambling, arms and alcohol companies.

The independent Investors Trust and the Pension Scheme trustees who invest on behalf of the Church and its associated pension schemes already operate ethical investment policies. These policies are under continual revision.

The Investor's Trust does not now invest in companies that derive more than 15 percent from their income from thermal coal or tar sands oil.

Petition supports Church action on climate change

More than 1,690 people have signed an online petition asking the Church of Scotland not to invest in fossil fuels. The petition, created by National Youth Assembly members makes the ethical case for divestment as part of the effort to keep global warming below 2 percent and avert catastrophic effects on some of the world's poorest people.

Rev Sally Foster Fulton said:

"Climate change is one of the most critical issues facing our global family and how we invest in that sustainable future goes to the heart of our Christian response. The Church of Scotland is committed to climate justice, and will discuss how best to influence the move to a fossil free future at this year's General Assembly.

"We welcome the energy and engagement shown by the many groups we have consulted with in order to prepare this report on divestment, including global partners who experience first-hand the devastating effects of climate change, congregations across Scotland, including those in Aberdeen who are deeply concerned about their future, the Church of Scotland Investors Trust and the Church of Scotland's National Youth Assembly, some of whom began an on-line petition.

"We look forward to the debate and the direction of travel it will offer, and do not shy away from the complexity of these issues. We believe this is an opportunity to look deeply and holistically at how we can all change to stop climate change."

The 2015 National Youth Assembly discussed climate change and ethical investment looking at arguments that included the value of engaging with energy companies and how best to reach the UN's climate goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees.

Engagement with energy companies

Church and Society's proposal also:

Calls on the Scottish and UK Governments, and businesses active in the North Sea oil and gas industry to help speed the transition to a low carbon economy and to ensure that the skills and experience of workers in the offshore industry are not lost as North Sea oil and gas fields run down

Directs the council, in partnership with the Investors Trust and Pension Trustees, to engage with energy companies in which the church has holdings, and discuss how they plan to meet the UN climate change targets.

You can read the proposal in the Blue Book. Page 160

You can read the arguments in the Blue Book. Page 182