April 2023

Dear Friends,

So much has happened over the past seven days, starting with last Thursday’s global divestment announcement by 31 faith institutions from six countries. With this latest announcement alone, over $2 billion of assets under management are now off limits to fossil fuel companies, and over half of those divestment announcements are from faith institutions in the UK. The UK is one of the leading countries in the world in terms of faith-based divestment, as nearly every major denomination has divested, with over half of all Church of England dioceses, and half of all Catholic dioceses in England and Wales, now having made a divestment commitment.

When it comes to the climate crisis, the UK Church is increasingly united – not only on the need to divest from fossil fuels, but also on the need to stop all new fossil fuel developments. At last Friday’s ‘No Faith in Fossil Fuels’ service, which was temporarily interrupted and coincided with ‘The Big One’ protest, nearly 1,500 Christians, including bishops, the Salvation Army brass band and many of the UK’s largest Christian charities, worshipped together at St John’s, Waterloo, and then walked to the Central London offices of oil and gas giant Shell. There, our very own Bokani Tshidzu addressed the crowd, and former Archbishop of York John Sentamu tried to hand a letter to Shell but was threatened with police action for doing so.

We ended by singing ‘Amazing Grace’ as a handful of bewildered Shell employees stood in their office windows, watching us. We then left to join other environmental campaigners in Parliament Square in Westminster, where tens of thousands of people gathered over the course of the massive four-day protest – including thousands of Christians – to call on the UK Government to stop all new fossil fuel projects, which will push global heating beyond safe limits.

The Operation Noah Team


People of faith announce 31 divestment commitments and urge other faith groups to divest

As fossil fuel companies continue to overheat the planet, underinvest in renewables and explore for new oil and gas in violation of scientific warnings, 31 faith institutions from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Italy and France joined last week’s global divestment announcement, proclaiming no faith in fossil fuels by making their assets permanently off limits to fossil fuel companies. Last week’s announcement by faith institutions included Canterbury Cathedral, the Diocese of London and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Northampton, and represented over $2 billion in assets under management. Read more.


Recent media coverage of our divestment work

In the lead up to last week’s global divestment announcement, each day in Lent Operation Noah featured one of the 40 dioceses in the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales which, at the beginning of 2023, had yet to make a divestment commitment. We were pleased that by the end of our campaign, only 30 dioceses remained on that list – a 25% improvement! Our ‘40 Days, 40 Dioceses’ campaign was covered by the National Catholic Reporter, while our global divestment announcement was covered by Business Green, the Church Times and again by National Catholic Reporter. Last week, our Bright Now campaign was also featured in an Al Jazeera documentary about faith groups and environmental action.


On the Operation Noah blog

‘No Faith in Fossil Fuels’: a Christian pilgrimage of witness

Bokani Tshidzu, Operation Noah’s Bright Now Campaign Officer, reflects on last week’s ‘No Faith in Fossil Fuels Service and Pilgrimage’ in Central London, which she calls, ‘a remarkable demonstration of the power of collective action and prayer’. Read more.


Cathy Rhodes on why the Church of England’s divestment pledge needs strengthening

The Chair of the Church of England’s General Synod Environment Group, Cathy Rhodes, has put forward a Private Member’s Motion to General Synod which calls on the Church of England’s National Investing Bodies to divest by the end of 2023 from any oil and gas companies planning to explore for or develop new fossil fuel projects, and also to scale up investment in climate solutions. In 2018, the CofE's National Investing Bodies said they would divest from fossil fuel companies not aligned with the Paris Agreement by the end of 2023; however, this latest Private Member’s Motion would significantly strengthen that pledge. Here, Cathy explains how. Read more.


Resources, news, events and opportunities

Churches in England and Wales can register to participate in this June’s ‘Churches Count on Nature’ scheme, where people visit churchyards and record the plant and animal species they encounter. The biodiversity survey, supported by environmental charities A Rocha UK and Caring for God’s Acre, as well as by the Church of England and the Church in Wales, will take place from 3 to 11 June as part of ‘Love Your Burial Ground Week’. Register here.

Fossil fuel divestment pledges which gain traction on social media have an outsized impact on carbon-intensive companies, wiping billions off their market value. The study by academics found that when a divestment tweet went viral, the market value of big carbon emitters fell significantly more than the value of the holding due to be sold. Read more.

Meadows on the edge of Hereford, which are owned by the Church of England’s Church Commissioners, will be turned into a 100-acre nature reserve. After signing a long-term lease with the Church Commissioners, Bartonsham Meadows will be managed by Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, which promises to ‘restore the meadows for wildlife and for people’. Read more.

The world is likely to use less fossil fuels to produce electricity this year in a potential turning point for clean energy, a new report says. It would be the first ever annual drop in the use of coal, oil and gas to generate electricity outside of a recession or pandemic. Read more.

The world’s 60 largest private banks have financed the fossil fuel industry to the tune of $5.5 trillion in the seven years since the Paris Agreement, according to the 2023 Banking on Climate Chaos report. Among the worst banks are Barclays as well as a number of American banks, including JP Morgan Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Read more.

The UK Government’s home insulation scheme would take 190 years to upgrade the energy efficiency of the country’s draughty housing stock, and 300 years to meet the Government’s own targets to reduce fuel poverty, calculations reveal. Read more.


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