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Methodist investment firm to divest from oil and gas stocks

News Team, 04/05/2021

Epworth Investment Management (Epworth) has sold its remaining company holdings in the oil and gas sector, including Royal Dutch Shell.

The Christian investment firm made the decision, alongside its parent company, The Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church, following advice from the Methodist Church’s Joint Advisory Committee on the Ethics of Investment (JACEI) in April 2021.

The committee ruled that no companies in the sector are currently aligned with the climate change targets set out by the 2015 Paris Accord.

For over three years, JACEI has been assessing companies in the oil and gas sector against the targets set by the Paris Accord using a number of metrics.

The Methodist Church recognised what it describes as the ‘climate emergency’ at its 2019 conference, and is in the process of determining how it might bring forward to 2030 its commitment to achieve net zero emissions.

Outlining the decision, David Palmer, Epworth’s chief executive, explained: “The CFB and Epworth have long been committed to engaging with companies around issues that negatively impact the poor and God’s creation. The pace of change across the oil and gas sector has been inadequate and we welcome the recommendation of JACEI to disinvest.”

Revd Dr Stephen Wigley, chair of JACEI, added: “The Committee has determined that the slow pace of corporate change means that the oil and gas sector is failing to meet the targets set by the Paris Accord. Shell, along with its peers, is currently failing to play a substantial enough role in addressing the climate emergency.”

Epworth was founded in 1996, and is dedicated to serving the needs of churches and charities. Currently, it manages assets of around £1.3 billion and is wholly owned by the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church, established in 1960.

The announcement proceeds the appointment of Reverend Harper as head of ethics

Fundeye has previously reported on the launch of its climate stewardship product and its wider investment process

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