Statement on Church Commissioners' investments

On April 23 2021, the Church Times reported that the Church Commissioners have opted out of the plan to achieve net zero carbon by 2030 agreed by General Synod.  We wanted to clarify that this is misleading and not correct.  While the operational parts of the Church Commissioners are included in the net zero target, the National Investing Bodies, including that of the Church Commissioners, were never included, as stated in GS 2159.

The reason they gave for this was that, as an asset owner with holdings across all aspects of the global economy, the Church Commissioners’ journey to net zero is reliant on influencing change in the real economy and policy environment as a whole, rather than implementing carbon-saving measures themselves.  Their target is a net zero investment portfolio by 2050, though the Church Commissioners recently announced a goal of reducing the carbon intensity of its investment portfolio by 25% by 2025 (based on a 2019 baseline).

Of course, it is entirely legitimate to scrutinise the Church Commissioners’ approach, to encourage ambition, and to ask for evidence of the difference their engagement with companies and policy makers is making.  However, it's also worth recognising that the Church Commissioners have already restricted investments in companies that have not met climate change goals, and were co-founders of the Transitions Pathway Initiative, which assesses companies’ preparedness for the transition to a low carbon economy.

Locally, Dioceses and church investment bodies are free to make their own investment decisions, and as such the Diocese of Bristol has committed to fully divesting from fossil fuels. 

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