Quakers to end investment in fossil fuels

Quakers in Britain announced yesterday that they will remove their investments from companies engaged in extracting fossil fuels, less than a week after representatives of Quakers in Britain (at their ‘Meeting for Sufferings’) announced that such investment is incompatible with Quakers’ commitment to become a low-carbon community.

The decision to disinvest was taken on 8/10/2013 by the Quakers’ Investment Committee, which acts under responsibilities devolved from the trustees of the Quakers’ national charity body.

In 2011 Quakers in Britain committed to becoming a sustainable low-carbon community.

Quakers in Britain currently has around £21m invested in the stock market. At the end of 06/2013 2.94% (£617,400) was invested in BG Group and 1.23% (£258,000) was invested in Statoil.

The decision to remove all investments from fossil fuel companies is likely to have a knock-on effect as many Quaker meetings around Britain look to the central body for guidance on matters such as ethical investment.

Operation Noah, the Christian campaign group on climate change issues has welcomed the Quaker move. “This news is a huge encouragement to us, coming so soon after our launch of the Bright Now campaign,” said Isabel Carter chairperson of Operation Noah. “We wish to congratulate the Quakers on taking leadership on this vital issue. We urge other churches in the UK to think seriously about following this example.”

Operation Noah have created a report for the Bright Now campaign outlining the scientific, financial, moral, theological and practical case for churches to change their investment policy on fossil fuels. It is available to download from www.brightnow.org.uk/resources.

In 11/2010 Quakers in Britain disposed of their shares in BP after coming under pressure from Quakers and campaign groups. At the time the World Development Movement urged Quakers to review their investment policy to “ensure that remaining and future funds are invested in truly ethical and sustainable projects from now on.”

In 2009 Quakers in Britain published a ‘framework for action 2009-14’, which stated: Sustainability is an urgent matter for our Quaker witness. It is rooted in Quaker testimony and must be integral to all we do corporately and individually.”

The minute of the meeting of representatives of Quakers in Britain recording their wish to disinvest said: “We want to invest in renewable energy and energy-saving schemes. Action we will take as individuals, as meetings and as Britain Yearly Meeting Trustees should aim to minimise damage and strengthen our advocacy position.

“We have expressed our difficulties, especially since we all depend in many ways on fossil fuels, but we need to make positive steps towards the change we want to see,” the minute concluded.

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