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Church News

Church of England dumps its stake in oil giant BP

by Will Maule

The Church of England has decided to ditch its investments with oil company BP. The Church Commissioners, which manages the denomination's £8.7 billion investment fund, is understood to have offloaded its BP stocks last year. 

Over recent months, the Commissioners have been vocal about applying a new set of ethical principles to guide its investment decisions. Interestingly, BP had already made strides to become more environmentally friendly - last year, the CofE welcomed BP CEO Bernard Looney’s commitment to cutting the company's carbon footprint down to net zero by 2050. While the exact size of the stake is unknown, records indicate that BP was thought to be among the commissioners’ largest 20 holdings for 2019.

According to reports, the investment decision was taken by an external fund manager and was not related to BP’s sustainability policies. Last year, the Methodist Church decided to sell its stake in BP after insisting that the company had failed to demonstrate how it was going to achieve its net zero target.

Earlier this month, the Church Commissioners announced it would be ramping up pressure on companies it invests with to ensure that their senior teams are ethnically diverse enough and that their biodiversity commitments are being upheld. 

The Commissioners warned that if these values are not adhered to, they will start sending out letters to the worst offenders in their portfolio by the middle of February and may begin pulling their investments. 

The Commissioners is chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who worked in the oil industry for over a decade before becoming an ordained minister. 

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