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Credit: PA
Credit: PA
UK News

Methodist Church puts climate over cash as it dumps oil investments

by Premier Journalist

The Methodist Church has sold stocks which it deemed ecologically unsustainable despite the possibility of their prise rising in the coming months.

Concerned by the green implications of holding shares in big oil companies, the church announced it was removing oil giants BP and Total from its £1.2 billion investment fund.

However, the timing of the move comes as crude oil prices plummeted due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Telegraph, the Methodist Church sold its near £2m stake in Total in March this year. That same month, Total saw its company share price drop to an all-time low due to Covid-19 and a spiralling oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. 

As oil prices are expected to rise again, the Church would have expected to make significantly more money on their investments.

Just a few oil and gas holdings remain in the Methodist portfolio, including Shell, Repsol, ENI and Equinor.

The Church of England, too, is concerned about the ethical implications of its financial ventures. Recently, the denomination's pension board warned BP that it would consider pulling its investments unless the oil giant can commit to bringing its emissions in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change action.

Stephen Beer, chief investment officer of the Methodists' Church Finance Board, said: "We take our responsibilities as shareholders seriously. We engage extensively and in detail to encourage companies to change, which is not so effective after we sell a holding. Nevertheless, when the ethical concerns are material and change is too slow or not forthcoming we will divest. That is what we have done with our BP and Total holdings.

"The point about the climate change threat is that you could lose more money later on but there's also an ethical decision here." 

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