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Church of England outlines green investment plans

The church said that it had about 32 megawatts of wind power on its own real estate last year.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Church of England outlines green investment plans
Church of England announces new efforts to pressure oil and gas companies with a divestment threat. Photo courtesy of the Church of England

July 9 (UPI) -- The Church of England said it plans to divest from companies that aren't on pace to meet the requirements outlined in the Paris climate agreement.

The church said during the weekend it was using its investment bodies to influence decision making at companies that it sees as negatively impacting climate policies and regulations.

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The new policy would assess how well a company is progressing on Paris climate goals by 2023 and disinvest from those falling short. Of the 54 companies it reviewed last year, the church found that 31 percent of them have improved their climate policies.

David Walker, the bishop of Manchester and deputy chairman of the Church Commissioners, said trying to influence behavior rather than full-scale divestment wasn't working.

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"It would not spur companies on to change further and faster," he said in a statement. "It would do the exact opposite -- it would take the pressure off them."

The church said it now has more invested, about $41.5 million, in renewable energy or low-carbon technology that it does in conventional energy. Royal Dutch Shell, French supermajor Total and Italian energy company Eni were singled out by the church for making smart decisions that would contribute to Paris goals.

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In June, British energy company BP reached an agreement to purchase electric vehicle charging company Chargemaster and rebrand it as its own. Chargemaster operates more than 6,500 charging points across the United Kingdom and the buyout fits with BP's expectations of growth in electric vehicle sales.

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The supermajor estimates there were around 135,000 electric vehicles on British roads last year and that number could jump to 12 million by 2040. Offshore, the country is one of the European leaders in wind power.

As of last year, the Church of England said it had 32 megawatts of wind power operating on its estates and 9 megawatts of solar power. Planning is under way for a 126 MW wind farm in Scotland.

The church proposal was weaker than an earlier deadline for divestment by 2020.

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