Film and Press Release: Divest Exxon Day

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BBC South Today filmed the whole day and they have kindly let us have their film.

Grandparents for a Safe Earth also made this video.

PRESS RELEASE 1st JUNE

FIRST EVER CLIMATE CHANGE DEMO OUTSIDE EXXONMOBIL FAWLEY REFINERY CALLS ON CHURCH TO DIVEST FROM FOSSIL FUELS

Yesterday, the day of ExxonMobil’s AGM, a coalition of faith and non-faith groups staged events to call for the Church of England to divest from the company.

Renewables are foreverEarly in the morning, demonstrators gathered outside Fawley refinery, handing leaflets to staff as they entered. Then at 4pm, faith and non-faith groups held a vigil outside Salisbury Cathedral before delivering a letter into the office of the Bishop of Salisbury, the lead bishop for Environmental Affairs in the Church of England, requesting that the Church divests from ExxonMobil.

Hours before the passing of a resolution on climate change at ExxonMobil’s AGM in Houston –  put forward by a group of institutional investors, including the Church of England – campaigners called on the Church to sell its shares in the company whatever the outcome of the vote.

Time to Cycle lead a bike ride through the New Forest between the two locations.

Dave and barrieRuth Jarman, a member of the Church of England said, ‘When the Church should be showing moral leadership to protect the millions of lives devastated every year by climate change, they’re being taken for a ride by the very company causing the problem. By continuing to hope that ExxonMobil is going to change its stripes, the Church of England is buying cover for one of the most notorious companies blocking action on climate change, including funding climate denying politicians and fake science.

‘The Church of England needs to wake up, follow the example of hundreds of other faith leaders around the world and cut its ties with these companies. The church should be filling the moral void created by these companies, not falling into it.’

Sigurd Reimers, of Grandparents for a Safe Earth, said, ‘Shareholder engagement is often an excellent way to make a company more ethical. But it takes time. And we don’t have time. This resolution is a ‘step zero’ in the task of fixing ExxonMobil.  It is simply asking ExxonMobil to disclose the effect of climate change on its business when we should be asking the exact opposite – for it to disclose the effect of its business on climate change.  And to act on that information.’  

IMG_6725Alison Craig, of the Salisbury Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, said, ‘The passing of the resolution at the AGM is a dangerous distraction.  It merely asks the company to disclose financial figures that have nothing whatsoever to do with cleaning-up their business. In the meantime, the Church will continue to make money out of causing climate change. This is wrong. The Church of England needs to get out of oil and gas, starting with ExxonMobil.’

Notes to editors

  1.    Fawley is the only ExxonMobil refinery in the UK, and is the largest and most complex in Europe.
  2.    The flyer that was handed to staff explaining the unethical behaviour of ExxonMobil is here.
  3.    The AGM resolution by a group of investors, including the Church of England, called for ExxonMobil to disclose the extent to which global action to tackle climate change will negatively impact the company’s future earnings. The Resolution was passed by 62.3% of the vote despite strong opposition from the ExxonMobil Board.
  4.    The strategy of ‘engagement’ by the Church with fossil fuel companies does not go far enough for divestment campaigners. For example a letter to the Church Times by 3 bishops and 27 other clergy on 5/5/17 called for the church pensions board to divest from fossil fuels.
  5.    In 2015 the Church moved to divest £12m from tar sands oil and thermal coal from its £9bn fund but has resisted calls for all out fossil fuel divestment. Church Commissioners have declined to disclose the sum invested in ExxonMobil, thought to be millions: their Annual Report (page 78) discloses the identity of their top 20 holdings only.
  6.    On 15th May 2017 The Guardian reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, may have played a crucial role in the decision by the investment company BMO Global Asset Management, to dump £20m of shares in firms such as BHP Billiton, the Anglo-Australian mining giant, because of climate change. The Archbishop is President of BMO’s responsible investment committee.
  7.    More information on the Divest ExxonMobil Day can be found at https://christianclimateaction.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/divest-ExxonMobil-day-join-us/
  8.    The campaigners’ coalition includes 350.org, Christian Climate Action, Fossil Free UK,  Grandparents for a Safe Earth, Salisbury Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, Salisbury Greenpeace, Time to Cycle.
  9.    There is a petition to register support for the Church of England to divest from fossil fuels here.

10.The fossil fuel divestment movement saw its beginnings in North America, Europe and Australia and has since become the fastest growing divestment movement in history.  Global commitments to divest have already reached 710 institutions across 76 countries, representing well over US$5.5 trillion in assets under management.

ENDS

BBC South Today filmed the whole day and they have kindly let us have their film.

And Exxon very kindly put up a fence for our banner:

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Letter to the Editor – Church Times 26th May 2017

From Mr Phil Kingston

Sir, — A minor misprint in the cap­tion to Christian Climate Action’s protest against the Church of Eng­land’s engagement with the fossil-fuel industry (News, 12 May) states that we think that there is not enough time to prevent runaway climate change, implying that there is nothing that can be done.

What we said in our statement was that there was not enough time for engagement (that is, trying to influence the fossil-fuel industry by holding shares in it) to prevent run­away climate change.

The work of Carbon Brief shows that the world has just four years of current fossil-fuel use before we ex­­ceed the carbon budget required for the Paris target of 1.5°, and uncon­trollable temperature-escalation becomes more likely. There is sim­ply not time for the slow and care­fully managed transition for which engagement aims.

Although there are ample reasons to give up on this particular planet, we pray that God has not, and choose to have a hopeful view of the future, which requires such a rapid transition away from fossil fuels that disinvestment and non-violent resistance must play a part.

Even if there is no chance of averting climate chaos, we do not believe it to be within the mission of the Church to profit from the de­­mise of civilised life on earth. Either way, it seems to us that the only moral position for the Church is an immediate commitment to disinvesting from all fossil fuels, and to investing, instead, in clean energy and other sustainable solutions.

PHIL KINGSTON

Christian Climate Action

53 Littleton Court, Blakeney Road

Patchway BS34 5RT

DIVEST EXXON DAY

Fawley_Oil_Refinery

There are now photos, video and a press release about this event.

Our hearts and prayers go out to all those affected by the atrocity in Manchester this week.  Climate change can only exacerbate some of the main causes of terrorism – one response to Monday night is to continue to fight for a stable climate.  

A coalition* of faith and non-faith groups are joining together to call for the Church of England to divest from ExxonMobil on Wed 31st May.

Join us for a pick-and-mix day of banner holding, leafleting, cycling and contemplation!  There are three activities:

  1. Demo outside Exxon’s Fawley refinery. Meet at 06:00 for 06:30 start in the field next to Fawley Church SO45 1SQ. Has to be this early to engage with staff/contractors/media. Only an hour or so. Plenty of public parking on Church Lane between the village and the refinery (Map of Fawley).  The demo (and the parking) will comply with legitimate public protest and police requirements.

ttc2. Time to Cycle bike ride between the two venues (optional).  Meet in the field next to Fawley Church SO45 1SQ. Leaving at 9.30am. Please alert all keen cyclists in your area! Cycling route maps will be organised. We are hoping to have a cycling support vehicle available. Trains home accessible from Salisbury Railway Station.

Salisbury_Cathedral_from_the_Bishop_Grounds_c.18253. Divest Exxon Vigil outside Salisbury Cathedral. Meet at 4pm outside the High Street (north) entrance to the Cathedral Close. Vigil for all faiths and none, probably one hour. A letter requesting that the Church of England divests from ExxonMobil will be handed to the office of the Bishop of Salisbury, the lead bishop for Environmental Affairs in the Church of England.

Why Exxon?

In our opinion Exxon is an unethical company. There is evidence they covered up their early knowledge of climate change and they are currently under investigation by the Attorney Generals of several US states. There is evidence they have been funding climate denial organisations for decades.  They are giving every indication they intend to continue extracting fossil fuels beyond the earth’s internationally agreed safety limit of max 2 degrees warming.

Why Fawley?

Fawley is the only ExxonMobil refinery in the UK, and is the largest and most complex in Europe.

Why 31st May?

We picked Wed 31st May, because this is the date of the ExxonMobil AGM in Houston, USA. At this AGM, a coalition of investors, including the Church of England, will be pressing the company to disclose the extent to which global action to tackle climate change will negatively impact the company’s future earnings.

Shareholder engagement is often an excellent way to make a company more ethical.  But it takes time.  And we don’t have time.  And this resolution is a ‘step zero’ in the task of fixing Exxon.  It is simply asking Exxon to disclose the effect of climate change on its business when we should be asking the exact opposite – for it to disclose the effect of its business on climate change.  And to act on that information.  The current resolution, with its focus on finance and taking the most minor of steps possible in this race against time is participating in the lie that the science going on in our atmosphere will wait around until we can be bothered to fix it. In these post-truth times, we think that the Church needs to stand up for truth and beware of being used to add colour and shine to the image of these companies whose business plans are set to destroy Earth’s ability to sustain life as we know it. The resolution is a distraction. The Church of England needs to get out of oil and gas, starting with Exxon.  If the motion is defeated, they must divest from Exxon.  If the motion goes through, they must divest from Exxon.

Why the Church of England?

The Church of England says it is an ethical investor, and has divested from some coal and tar sands.  But it still has millions invested in Exxon.

The vigil will express support for a recent divestment decision that may have been influenced by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the letter to the Church Times by 3 bishops and 27 other clergy on 5/5/17 on why the church pensions board should divest from fossil fuels


If you agree that good people’s money should not be invested in a bad company, please join us for one of, or all of our Divest Exxon Day!  Hoping to see you there.  This is, politically, a cross-party event. Like-minded groups welcome. Musicians welcome. Coffee, tea, butties and cake especially welcome!

Please drum up as much support for this as you can. We want – we need – divestment. 

Whether or not you make it, if you would like to register your support for the Church of England to divest from fossil fuels, there is a petition here.

For more information, email christianclimateaction@gmail.com .

*The coalition includes 350.orgChristian Climate Action, Fossil Free UK,  Grandparents for a Safe Earth, Salisbury Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, Salisbury GreenpeaceTime to Cycle, Wessex Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement.

PRESS RELEASE: Church of England breaks its Engagement with Fossil Fuels at Staged Wedding

IMG_66399th May 2017

Church of England breaks its Engagement with Fossil Fuels at Staged Wedding

On Monday 8th May, Christian Climate Action staged a wedding between the Church of England and fossil fuels to protest the Church’s continued investment in the industry. The sketch and short prayer vigil took place on the steps of Church House, Dean’s Yard, Westminster.

The event, which was part of the Global Divestment Mobilisation, aimed to encourage the Church of England to show moral leadership and divest from the fossil fuel industry. Currently the Church is pursuing a policy of engagement – holding shares in the industry and using shareholder status to try to change the industry’s behaviour. Christian Climate Action believes that engagement cannot work because there is not enough time for it to prevent runaway climate change having a devastating impact on people and God’s creation. They also do not think it is right for the Church to profit from an industry that is making money from wrecking the earth’s climate.

In the sketch, where the Bride of Christ, representing the Church of England, was to be given in marriage to the fossil fuel industry, there was an objection from Jesus Christ, who persuaded the bride to break her engagement with fossil fuels and seek forgiveness.

After the play the guests heard about the impact of coal mining and climate change in Colombia and Uganda before joining in a short prayer vigil.

Diana Salazar, of Colombia Solidarity Campaign, said, ‘the Church of England invests in BHP Billiton and Anglo American, two of the biggest mining companies in the world, and both with significant coal mining operations. They are among the owners of the Cerrejon opencast coal mine in Colombia, which has a history of forced evictions of farming communities and destruction of rural livelihoods. The mine has a massive impact on water in an arid region, and when mine management are challenged about this they try to evade responsibility by blaming water shortages on climate change. Climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, primarily coal, so this is rather an ironic excuse for a coal company to use.’

Jim Green talked about his recent visit to rural Uganda with a Christian Development Agency. ‘Every community we visited were talking about the effect of climate change. For some it meant having only one meal a day, or, in some cases, one meal every two days.’

The Church Commissioners were ‘invited’ to the ‘wedding’ but were unable to attend.  Before leaving, Holly Petersen, dressed as the Bride of Christ, handed in some chocolate hearts and a card to the Church Commissioners’ Communications Officer, asking them to conclude the Church’s engagement with fossil fuels.

Caroline Harmon of Christian Climate Action said:

The Church of England claims to be a responsible investor, and has a strong moral voice. It claims to understand the threat and urgency of climate change, yet instead of divesting from the biggest fossil fuel companies, they continue to engage. As part of the Global Divestment Mobilisation we invited the Church Commissioners to the wedding of the Church and fossil fuels, where we highlighted the impacts of climate change and prayed for more urgent action.’

ENDS

Notes for editors:

  1. Global Divestment Mobilisation is a week of action around the globe to encourage divestment from the fossil fuel industry: https://globaldivestmentmobilisation.org/
  2. Christian Climate Action is a community of Christians supporting each other in following Jesus Christ in the face of imminent and catastrophic anthropogenic climate change, in acts of non-violent direct action. We are based in the UK. https://christianclimateaction.wordpress.com
  3. The Order of Service for the event, including the vigil, can be found here
  4. The full script for the sketch can be found here.
  5. More photos can be found here and here.
  6. The group has a facebook page.
  7. We hope to have a video of the event here soon.

 

Our Wedding Album

Church of England breaks its Engagement with Fossil Fuels at staged wedding

Here are some of our photos from our Break this Engagement sketch performed on the steps of Church House to protest the Church of England’s continued engagement with fossil fuel companies when they should be divesting.

These are the photographs taken by a professional photographer.  Please credit Imogen Anderson or instagram @street.furniture.

And this is a slideshow – not as good as Imogen’s photos – but they tells the story!

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