Divestment resolution passed by Baptist Union Council
Baptist Union Council members overwhelmingly passed a divestment resolution with a 98.5 per cent majority on 24 March.
This update to the Baptist Union Ethical Investment Policy reflects a commitment to respond to the continuing environmental and climate crisis by abstaining from investment of funds in all fossil fuel extraction, refining and distribution. The Baptist Union had previously already divested from Coal and Tar sands in March 2019.
The proposal had been brought to Council by Rev Dr Dave Gregory, Convenor of the Baptist Union’s Environmental Network, and was co-authored by the John Levick, the Baptist Union’s Treasurer, as a practical commitment towards climate justice ahead of COP26.
In presenting the resolution Dr Gregory explained that taking this step at this moment “enables us to walk more firmly with our partners in the gospel in light of the climate crisis which affects the whole “community of creation”, both human and others, across the world today and threatens the order of creation into the future.”
It would also be a significant step along the path to reaching zero net carbon as a movement, as well as giving Baptists a stronger voice in encouraging others in our nation and world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis through this coming decade.
Lucy Tiller, intern for the Joint Public Issues Team, spoke movingly to the resolution: “Today I’m asking you to use your financial resources and your moral leadership to stand alongside young people and groups already affected by climate chaos.”
Following the presentations many council members spoke passionately in support of divestment. Several highlighted how churches in their Associations had asked them to support the motion. A number of Baptist churches have already divested, including Devonport Baptist Church in Plymouth and High Street Baptist Church in Tring.
Following the passing of the resolution, the updated wording to the Baptist Union investment policy now reads: “We will therefore avoid investment in companies with significant trading in: the extraction, production and refining of oil, gas, tar sand and coal."
Dr Gregory, a former meteorologist at the Met office and the European Weather Centre, said: “It was inspiring to hear so many voices from across the generations and different parts of the Baptist Together family recognising the importance of the decision to divest from fossil fuels, and agreeing that this was the way we need to walk with Jesus together in the face of the climate and environmental crisis which for many in our world is an immediate climate emergency.”
James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Manager at Operation Noah, said: “We are delighted that the Baptist Union has decided to divest from fossil fuels. As the UK prepares to host COP26, the Baptist Union's leadership and support for a just and green recovery is hugely welcome. Of the total of more than 1,300 organisations contributing to the global divestment movement, 450 are faith-based institutions.”