Church of England Dumps Coal as Fossil-Fuel Divestment Gains – by Thomas Biesheuvel (Bloomberg News – May 1, 2015)

It appears coal mining isn’t God’s work. The Church of England will dump its holdings in coal and oil-sand producers and has ruled out backing companies with exposure to the most polluting fossil fuels, joining the movement that wants investors to help fight climate change.

The church’s investment arm said on Thursday that it will sell its 12 million-pound ($18.3 million) coal and tar sands investments. The church also vowed not to invest in any business that gets more than 10 percent of its revenue from the fuels, ruling out companies including Peabody Energy Corp. and Suncor Energy Inc.

The move by the church, created by Henry VIII’s split from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century and still headed by the Queen, is a victory for environmental activists seeking to stigmatize oil and coal companies in the way South Africa and tobacco companies have previously been targeted.

“Climate change is already a reality,” said the Reverend Richard Burridge, deputy chair of the church’s ethical investment advisory group. “The church has a moral responsibility to speak and act on both environmental stewardship and justice for the world’s poor who are most vulnerable to climate change.”

Glasgow University

About 200 institutions worldwide have pledged to scale back investments in polluting industries, including Glasgow University in Scotland and Stanford University in California. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, built with profits from Standard Oil Co., said last year it will sell its coal and tar-sand investments.

Prince Charles, who will become head of the Church of England when his mother dies and has long campaigned on environmental issues, has ensured his private investments and charitable foundations do not have any fossil-fuel holdings, the Financial Times reported on April 26.

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