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Church threatens to withdraw oil firm investments

It's the first mainstream religious organisation in the UK to threaten to withdraw money from fossil fuel companies, after various 'divestment' campaigns.

The Church's investments total more than £9 billion, with tens of millions in oil companies.

Now it's urging them to cut greenhouse emissions and become more environmentally friendly - or lose their investment.

Head of responsible investment at the Church Commissioners, Edward Mason, says:

"The shareholder resolutions are intended to challenge the companies to run their businesses to that they participate constructively in the transition to a law-carbon economy."

The Church stresses that its hoping to stay working closely with the companies in order to better influence change, but added that divestment would be used as a last resort.

Back in 2010, the Church withdrew investment from Vedanta mining group.

It also sold its stake in News International (now known as News UK) in 2012, in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.

Shell has yet to comment on the demands, but the company's chief executive said in September it was "preparing for increasingly robust legislation on emissions" and "understand that renewable has a huge role to play in the energy system of the future."

BP says it will "carefully consider" the Church's action "and respond appropriately before the AGM (Annual General Meeting) in April."

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