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AUM in Action

CoE Pensions Board, Commissioners Exit Oil and Gas

The Church of England Pensions Board (CoEPB) and Church Commissioners have announced that they are divesting from oil and gas firms failing to align with climate goals. The Church Commissioners, which manages the CoE’s £10.3 billion (US$13.2 billion) endowment fund, had previously excluded 20 oil and gas majors from its investment portfolio, but will now be excluding BP, Ecopetrol, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Occidental Petroleum, Pemex, Repsol, Sasol, Shell and Total, having concluded that “none are aligned with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement”. The Commissioners said it will only remain invested in an oil and gas firm if it can demonstrate genuine alignment with a 1.5°C pathway by the end of 2023. “The decision to disinvest was not taken lightly,” said Alan Smith, First Church Estates Commissioner. “Soberingly, the energy majors have not listened to significant voices in the societies and markets they serve and are not moving quickly enough on the transition. If any of these energy companies come into alignment with our criteria in the future, we would reconsider our position.” The CoEPB will be taking the same steps, including divesting from Shell; CoEPB previously led engagement efforts at Shell via Climate Action 100+ (CA100+). The Pensions Board has said it will no longer prioritise engagement with the oil and gas sector on climate change and will instead refocus its efforts on reshaping the demand for oil and gas from key sectors such as the automotive industry – a move previously hinted at by the board’s Chief Responsible Investment Officer Adam Matthews. CoEPB CEO John Ball said: “There is a significant misalignment between the long-term interests of our pension fund and continued investment in companies seeking short term profit maximisation at the expense of the ambition needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Recent reversals of previous commitments, most notably by BP and Shell, has undermined confidence in the sector’s ability to transition.” 

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