All 13 Synods now divested from fossil fuels

Last Updated on 18 July 2022 by Ann-Marie Nye

The United Reformed Church (URC) is proud to reveal that all its 13 Synods have divested from fossil fuels.

The achievement comes after North Western and the East Midlands Synods joined 35 faith institutions from seven countries in announcing their divestment from fossil fuel companies on 5 July.

Organised by the World Council of Churches, Operation Noah, Laudato Si’ Movement, Green Anglicans and GreenFaith, this latest divestment announcement includes from faith institutions in Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, the UK and the US, and was made on the same week of the URC’s 2022 General Assembly.

Held from 8-11 July at The Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick, General Assembly passed a resolution pertaining to an environment policy which, with effect from January 2023, instructs committees and bodies under the control of the Assembly to adopt as minimum the practices Paper I2 sets out.

In presenting the paper, Simeon Mitchell, Secretary for Church and Society, noted that 2022 is the fifth hottest year on record, and that he climate crisis “is an ever-present reality; including a “frightening loss of biodiversity”.

Both the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the UN have warned against new fossil fuel projects anywhere in the world, as scientists say we cannot safely burn the vast majority of fossil fuels still in the ground.

Yet, reports Operation Noah, just nine months after world leaders pledged to “keep 1.5 alive” at the COP26 conference in Glasgow, 20 fossil fuel companies – including Shell, Total, BP and ExxonMobil – are moving ahead with fossil fuel expansion plans totalling $932 billion that would push the world past 1.5°C of heating.

Meanwhile, governments including the US, Canada, the UK, Norway and Australia continue to approve new fossil fuel developments that will put 1.5°C out of reach.

The URC unanimously approved proposals to sell its investments in fossil fuel companies at Mission Council in May 2019.

Faith institutions now represent more than 35% of all divestment commitments globally – more than any other single sector.

The Revd Geoffrey Clarke, Moderator of the East Midlands Synod, said: “Fossil fuel divestment is a positive means of ensuring our financial stewardship reflects a serious stewardship of the earth’s resources.   Too many of our sisters and brothers are already suffering unduly through the climate crisis.  Our commitment to divestment today is a small step towards the chance of investment in a better tomorrow for them and for our planet.”

For more on this announcement, visit Operation Noah.


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