Fossil fuels: An industry of sin?

  • 29/08/2013

Next week the Anglican Diocese of Auckland will be deciding whether to pull its investments from stocks it holds in the fossil fuel industry.

St Paul's Church in Auckland will also host a public event on Sunday, where speakers including climate scientist James Renwick and business journalist Rod Oram will argue that divesting is the right thing to do.

The Reverend Mathew Newton will present the motion at the church's synod next week. He says divesting from the fossil fuel industry is a moral imperative.

"The leading British journal The Lancet makes it quite clear that climate change is going to be the big health issue of the 21st century, and for us the moral issue comes down to this: the effects of climate change will not be felt equally," he said on Firstline this morning.

"It will affect the poor, the marginalised, those on coastal lands the most. For New Zealand it becomes an acute issue as we stand with our Pacific neighbours and as we think about the future generations."

He isn't sure how much money the church has invested in fossil fuels, but whether it's a large or small amount doesn't matter.

"The Anglican Church is about a medium-sized investor, and like many other social institutions it has a range of investments in a very wide portfolio. Included within that most likely will be stocks within the fossil fuel industry," he says.

"These funds are managed by our investors, so as far as I'm aware we actually don't have a register of exactly where all those funds are going. The critical issue for us is the moral issue around fossil fuel investment."

The church already makes an effort not to invest in industries it sees as unethical, such as pornography, gambling, tobacco and armaments. It's Rev Newton's aim to add fossil fuels to that list.

"For us, the science is really clear; we need to keep 80 percent of the world's gas, oil and coal reserves within the ground if we are going to have any chance of keeping the rise in climate to within 2degC, so we think divesting from fossil fuels is very much a pertinent issue of the age, and we need to start acting now."

The public are invited to St Paul's Church this Sunday at 1pm to hear speakers talk on climate science, theology and ethical investment. The church will make a decision on September 5.

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source: newshub archive