Nigerian Climate Activists Hail Church of England’s move to Stop engaging Shell

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BEININ CITY, NIGERIA. May 7, 2022…. Civil Society Organisations which criticised the Church of England’s support for Shell have welcomed the Church’s decision to step back from engaging Shell via the $68 trillion Climate Action 100+ initiative.

Last year over 40 Civil Society Organisations sent a letter on the topic to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd. Justin Welby, saying that they were “extremely disappointed and concerned to see that the Church of England Pensions Board is lending its moral and financial authority to Shell”.

Late last week the Church of England issued a statement saying that they would “step down from leading engagement with Shell”. In response, the Rev David Ugolor, organiser of the 2021 CSO letter, expressed happiness.

“We welcome the news that the Church of England Pensions Board will no longer grant its moral authority to Shell. Shell has wreaked havoc in Nigeria’s Niger Delta for several decades and can’t be trusted to bring about climate justice,” Ugolor said.

“Last year, the Board’s Chief Responsible Investment Officer Adam Matthews said that ‘Shell is accountable and can be trusted to deliver.’ Now he seems to have changed his mind, arguing in the Church of England Pensions Bord’s announcement that ‘we will be refocusing our engagement efforts on car manufacturers and on corporate lobbying.’ This is the right way to go, if the Church of England net zero 2050 agenda will be achieved”, Ugolor stated.

The Climate Justice and anti-corruption activist, however, called on the Church of England to speak out more clearly about Shell’s failed climate plan, not just slide away silently after championing the company’s climate plans last year. In particular he called for the Church to vote against Shell’s management at the company’s 24th May AGM clarity and to clarify whether they plan to divest their shares.

“We are making this call because, few days after Shell’s last AGM, the company faced two strong challenges to its energy transition strategy from official institutions. First, the International Energy Agency concluded that no new oil and gas fields should be approved for development after 2021 if the world is to reach its agreed 2050 net zero emissions target.

“Then a Dutch court ruled that Shell must cut its carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, starting immediately. The judgement found that the same Shell policies praised by the Church of England “largely amount to rather intangible, undefined and non-binding plans for the long-term”, concluding that Shell is causing a danger to people’s right to life. Shell’s bosses didn’t feel accountable, didn’t change the company’s strategy, and appealed the verdict. Unfortunately, in all of these, the Church of England kept quiet.” Rev Ugolor stated.

It would be recalled that last year, 40 Nigerian Civil Society wrote a powerful letter calling on the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd. Justin Welby to “take urgent steps to ensure that the church reconsiders its position on supporting Shell.” The group noted that it was immoral 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.”

Nigeria is a country with a very large number of active Anglican worshippers.

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