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The Diocese of Auckland has decided to divest from the fossil fuels industry – the first institutional body in New Zealand to do so.
On the final day of its annual meeting last Saturday, the Diocesan Synod voted overwhelmingly to support a motion calling on the diocese to withdraw its investments from companies whose main business is the extraction and/or production of fossil fuels.
The decision is a landmark event for environmental action in New Zealand.
The diocese thus becomes the first body in New Zealand to join the global divestment movement initiated by the international climate action organization, 350.org
Revd Mathew Newton, of St Paul’s Symonds Street, who introduced the synod motion, stressed in his speech the moral argument for fossil fuel divestment, saying “global climate change … will have its greatest effect on those who have the least access to the world’s resources and who have contributed least to its cause — not least in the Pacific islands where sea level rise already poses a grave threat.”
The move to divest was a question of “moral consistency,” Mathew said. “If we are making efforts to reduce our carbon emissions on the one hand, it doesn’t make sense for us to be financing the fossil fuel industry through our investments on the other.”
Bishop Jim White added: “Where we invest our money speaks of our long-term hopes. Not investing in the fossil fuels industry speaks of hopes for a different, cleaner and more sustainable energy industry.
“Jesus speaks of ‘where your treasure is there your heart will be also.’ Our heart is for a greener future.”
The divestment motion was co-sponsored by the Diocesan Climate Change Action Group, extending its legacy of sustainability initiatives in the diocese.
The convenor of the group, Dr Richard Milne, welcomed the strong support for the motion, saying “it is a simple yet powerful step that sends a clear signal of how important it is for us to move rapidly towards renewable sources of energy.”
The Auckland divestment motion follows similar steps by churches in other countries, including the USA, the UK and Australia.
Similar motions calling for fossil fuel divestment will be brought before other Anglican synods across New Zealand in the coming weeks.