Engagement Will Make Energy Giants Cut Carbon

by Gerry Lynch last modified 31 May, 2017 08:15 PM

Bishop hails Exxon vote in Texas: engagement is delivering more than divestment

Bishop Nicholas has received a petition from environmental campaigners today, but said that blanket divestment from fossil fuel companies would mean the Church would lose its much of its influence with them as a major investor. 

Speaking after the petition was received at South Canonry, less than two hours before a major victory for those working against climate change at the Exxon Annual Shareholder Meeting, Bishop Nicholas said, “I, and the Church of England collectively, share the campaigners’ concerns on climate change, and agree that it is imperative that we limit the global temperature rise due to COemissions to 2C and less if possible. 

“We firmly believe, however, that engagement with companies by active shareholders committed to averting catastrophic climate change is too powerful a tool to abandon at this time by divesting. 

“The wisdom of this policy was shown today at Exxon’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders in Dallas, where the Church of England’s National Investment Bodies helped lead a coalition of investors which has forced the energy giant to prepare for a future where CO2 emissions are limited to keep global temperature rise to 2C. 62% of shareholders backed the motion despite opposition from the Exxon board. 

Read more about this remarkable and highly significant outcome on the Church of England website. 

“Our active engagement and voting record provide greater leverage and influence than we could ever hope by simply selling our holdings. We have been able to gain the support of asset owners and fund managers from across the world with over $12 trillion in funds under management. This enormous sum is thousands of times the amount we manage and indicates the leadership the Church can play as an investor. 

“We have now established an international initiative, the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI), with the London School of Economics, which evaluates corporate practices and performance and provides us, and other asset owners, with a structured framework for engagement. 

“If engagement is not effective, it also provides a framework for escalation in our dealings with energy companies in which we hold shares. We retain the right to disinvest if companies are unresponsive. We have already disinvested from the most polluting fossil fuel companies, just as we disinvested from companies which failed to improve labour conditions. 

“Fossil fuels will continue to be part of the world’s energy mix for several more decades. The key is that they will be a declining component. We intend to play our part in ensuring companies manage that transition.”

Bishop Nicholas is currently on leave and was not available to receive the petition, but his staff received it on his behalf.

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