Church of Scotland urged to sell off shares in oil and gas

A proposal had been made at the Kirk's General Assembly earlier this year, to disinvest in fossil fuels - however, it was rejected. Picture: John Devlin
A proposal had been made at the Kirk's General Assembly earlier this year, to disinvest in fossil fuels - however, it was rejected. Picture: John Devlin
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The Church of Scotland has been urged to sell off its shares in oil and gas in a bid to save the planet.

Members of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, which met for the final time earlier this month, called for it to disinvest from fossil fuel companies as soon as possible.

The council met for the last time before it is merged into a new agency provisionally named the Faith Impact Forum.

A proposal had been made at the Kirk's General Assembly earlier this year, to disinvest in fossil fuels - however, it was rejected.

Now a report making the same recommendation will be given to the General Assembly in a bid to convince it that moving towards renewable energy is a 'spiritual calling'.

Writing in an open letter in the Herald, Reverend Richard Frazer said: "Whilst we have consistently acknowledged the need to leave fossil fuels in the ground if we are to prevent runaway climate change, the Church has chosen to continue investing in companies involved in fossil fuel extraction.

"The position of the General Assembly has been that it is better to engage with these companies than to disinvest.

"The question of the Church's investments in fossil fuels, for the last two years at least, has caused significant debate within the General Assembly as it has wrestled with the clear need to transition away from fossil fuels and the current reality of society's dependence on them.

"These are not easy tensions to navigate but increasingly, as the impact of what we are doing to the planet becomes more apparent, they must be navigated and urgently."

The Scottish Government has committed to a target of "net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045" and Rev Frazer, convener of the Church and Society Council, said action needed to be taken immediately to make this possible.

He added: "We have listened to the young people within the Church and outside it who are calling for radical action to address this existential crisis.

"We have listened to partner churches across the world who are experiencing the impacts of climate change, and we have listened to oil companies telling us of their concern for climate change whilst continuing to expand production and invest tens of billions of dollars in exploration and development of new oil and gas fields around the world.

"At this final meeting in Edinburgh, the Council has come to the conclusion that for reasons of conscience and out of an urgent necessity to respond what is happening to our planet, we must accelerate the process of weaning ourselves off our dependence on fossil fuels.

"In taking this decision we have approved a report which we will be commending to next year's General Assembly, recommending that the Church sells its shares in oil and gas companies as a matter of urgency.

"This is the greatest opportunity we have to showcase how Scotland is moving away from its long tradition of dependence on fossil fuels to embrace the new world of low-carbon energy, a transformation that we believe to be a spiritual calling, as well as demanding the best of technological know-how of which we have an abundance in Scotland.

"As Christians, we believe we have a duty to care for God's earth.

"We are running out of time, and people may argue that our individual actions do not amount to much, but our faith and history tells us that transformation is possible when people's actions begin to chime with their faith."