New Zealand: More dioceses vote to divest from fossil fuels

By Taonga staff
Posted Sep 23, 2013

[Anglican Taonga] The dioceses of Wellington and Waiapu have voted to remove all of their investments in companies that extract or produce fossil fuels.

The Wellington decision came at the annual synod in Palmerston North last weekend and follows a similar decision by the Diocese of Auckland earlier this month.

Wellington diocese says the church is concerned about the effect of carbon emissions on climate change and also about the long-term health of investments in the fossil fuel industry.

Its share holdings will be divested within the next two years.

The Rev. Tim McKenzie proposed the motion, telling delegates a low-carbon economy cannot be created at once and small significant steps like this decision are needed.

“I don’t think we can afford to wait to see if the worst-case scenarios about climate change turn out to be true,” he said.

“This is a small step that we can take now towards a low-carbon economy and therefore we should take it now before the climate situation gets really drastic.”

Waiapu decided to divest over the next three years.

The divestment applies to shares of around NZ$960,000 (US$804,030) or 5 percent of the diocese’s NZ$19.5m (US$16.3m) portfolio.

The decision was made at the annual synod in Tauranga Sept. 14-15, following a debate that attracted the greatest number of speakers and the greatest intensity of feelings.

During the debate the target was changed from “fossil fuel companies” to “companies whose primary focus is in the extraction and processing of fossil fuels.”

Synod was told that passing such a motion could impact on returns that the board of trustees provides for parish investments.

However, the motion passed overwhelmingly.