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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Campaigners flay Church of England’s support for Shell’s climate and energy plan

A group of environmental activists operating as the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) has frowned at the seeming patronising disposition of the Church of England towards oil giant, Shell.

Most Revd Justin Welby
The Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

In an open letter to The Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Canterbury Cathedral, London, endorsed by Rev David Ugolor, Convener and Executive Director, ANEEJ, the activists urged Revd Welby to use all the tools available to him to encourage all parts of the Church of England to challenge Shell, “rather than champion the corporation’s climate and energy plan”.

In the letter wherein Revd Ugolor signed on behalf of 39 organisations, the group expressed disappointment and concern that the Church of England Pensions Board is lending its moral and financial authority to Shell, and plans to vote for Shell’s climate and energy plan at its 2021 Annual Meeting.

In a recent article the Church of England Pensions Board’s Chief Responsible Investment Officer reportedly wrote that Shell’s “goal is clear and unambiguous, and Shell is accountable for delivering that target”.

But ANEEJ disagreed, saying: “Nigeria has deep experience with Shell, and as representatives of Nigerian citizens’ groups we wish to tell you that we feel that the company is the opposite of accountable to most Nigerians, and has a track record of misleading statements and commitments.

“Shell should not be rewarded for setting a long-term ambition to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 – we need urgent action now, starting this year.”

The campaigners went on: “It is not acceptable for the Church to sign off on a Shell plan for this decade that makes no absolute carbon emission reduction pledges, includes huge increases in gas production, and relies on improbably large amounts of tree-planting.

“Indeed, Shell’s rush to find land for ‘nature-based solutions’ might well lead to further carbon colonialism, slavery and human rights violations in the global south. Aiming for net-zero carbon emissions has become another effort by polluting entities like Shell to avoid cutting emissions but rather continue in the harmful practices that drive global warming. Net zero is not zero emissions.

“It simply means polluting and assuming the equivalent amount of carbon is absorbed by trees or is mechanically captured and stored by an assortment of risky and unregulated geoengineering proposals. Endorsing Shell’s plan is akin to handing the corporation a right to toy with planetary systems while the poor and vulnerable continue to fight a losing battle against global warming.

“The Church of England has an important voice in the world on many topics. And on Shell your responsibility is even weightier, as you lead engagement with the company on behalf of the Climate Action 100+, an initiative involving over 500 investors worth $54 trillion.

“With the effects of climate change more visible every year, the future of our children is at stake, in Nigeria, Africa and around the world. We hope that you hear our call, and take urgent steps to ensure that the church reconsiders its position on Shell. Endorsing the cynical climate plan offered by Shell would mean believing that Earth systems operate according to the principles of calculus and negates the truth that the Earth is a wonderfully created system of interdependent and complex systems that no man can control by mechanical contraptions or imaginations for the sole aim of meeting shareholder’s pleasure.

“We urge you to continue to support our demands for ecological justice and the protection of our environment and will be happy to continue the dialogue with you as we look forward to a positive response.”

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