In our latest guest blog, Rev Andrew Haper, Head of Ethics at Epworth Investment Management and the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church reflects on their decision to divest from fossil fuels.
The Methodist Church remains seriously concerned with climate change, its current effects, and the impending threat of misery and irreparable harm to God’s creation in the future. A sense of urgency, grounded in Scripture and scientific data, leads the Methodist response to the climate emergency. The church is clear – it is now ‘morally irresponsible’ to ignore the emergency and the urgent steps required to ‘prevent intolerable damage to human populations and mass extinctions of many plant and animal species.’1
Matin Luther King reminds us, ‘we are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is the time for vigorous action.’2
Some of you may have recently seen the Methodist Church, through Epworth Investment Management, disinvested from its remaining oil and gas holdings – including a £21m stake in Royal Dutch Shell.3
For Epworth, as investors driven by Christian teaching, we have no time for ignorance, apathy or complacency whilst God’s creation is suffering. No. We are called to speak on behalf of the poor and the planet, and to lead a revolution of values that looks uneasily and with righteous indignation at injustice around the world, and we must challenge companies who have what Dr. King calls ‘high blood pressure of creeds and anemia of deeds.’4
Epworth engaged significantly with Shell over their climate targets, but after an inadequate response, the church’s patience ran out. For the Methodist Church, tomorrow became today. The urgency of the climate emergency could no longer be held hostage to uninspiring climate targets set by fossil fuel companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, and the time for vigorous action was now. In this case, disinvestment from Royal Dutch Shell served as an act of solidarity with and a voice on behalf of the poor and the planet.
Epworth Investment Management Limited (“Epworth”) is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA Registered Number 175451). It is incorporated in England and Wales (Registered Number 3052894), with a registered office at 9 Bonhill Street, London EC2A 4PE and is wholly owned by the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church.
1 Hope in God’s Future, hope-in-gods-future-1120.pdf (methodist.org.uk).
2 Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City.
3 Methodist Church dumps Shell over ‘inadequate’ climate plans | Financial Times (ft.com).
4 Mieder, W. (2010). “Making a Way Out of No Way”: Martin Luther King’s Sermonic Proverbial
Rhetoric. Austria: Peter Lang.