At its biennial General Assembly yesterday, the Presbyterian Church agreed by a majority vote to request that the Church’s Property Trustees, who manage the major funds of the Church, divest from fossil fuel investments.
The General Assembly also encouraged all congregations and members of the Church to seriously consider the same action in relation to their own investments.
The Church declared investment in the fossil fuel industry to be unethical, socially irresponsible and contrary to the Church’s mission of “caring for creation”.
The Presbyterian Church joins a growing number of churches globally that are considering whether they will divest from fossil fuels.
If the Church’s Property Trustees decide to divest from investment in coal, oil or gas companies listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange as well as from the 100 largest global coal, oil and gas companies, divestment has been requested to take place within three years.
The Rev Bruce Hamill says, “The Church has previously committed itself to act to help reduce the threat of climate change. There is clear scientific consensus that climate change, driven by human activity, is increasing. To avoid a catastrophe we need to limit global warming to 2°C, which will require that up to 80 per cent of known fuel reserves stay in the ground.
“Global climate change will disproportionately affect the poor and vulnerable – not least in the islands of the Pacific where sea level rise poses a grave threat – and is one of the most serious challenges to global health and social justice in human history.”