Church of England $14bn fund blacklists coal, oil sands
The Church of England is one of the world’s richest religious institutions with an investment portfolio worth $13.8 billion.
On Thursday the body said that it will no longer make any investment in companies that produce coal or are involved in Canada’s oil sands extraction.
Announcing the changes to the investment criteria the Bishop of Salisbury, the church’s lead official on the environment, called climate change “the most pressing moral issue in our world”.
The Church did leave some space for mining investment however by limiting the ban to companies which are primary producers – constituting more than 10% of revenues – of the two commodities. Metalurgical coal also appears to be exempt under the new investments rules:
The bishop explained it this way reports the FT:
This means it may retain shares in companies such as BHP Billiton, which mines coal but earns a large chunk of revenues from iron ore, copper, and aluminium, said Edward Mason, the Church’s head of responsible investment. But companies that focus on coal mining, such as Peabody in the US, would be excluded.
“It’s about an alignment of interests,” Mr Mason said. “If you are a specialist coal mining company you don’t share the interest that we have in the transition to a low-carbon economy and the sense of it as a moral imperative. But if you are a BHP Billiton, where coal is a small part of your portfolio, we can have a constructive conversation with you about the future of coal for you as a company.”
The move comes nearly three years after Justin Welby, a former senior executive at the now defunct Enterprise Oil firm, was appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury, the church’s highest office.