The issue of fossil fuel divestment is to be debated at the Church of England Synod this weekend (6-10th July, 2018). The Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, has tabled an amendment urging the National Investing Bodies (NIBs) “to divest from any fossil fuel company which is not on an unequivocal path by 2020 to aligning its business investment plan with the Paris Agreement to restrict global warming to well below 2°C.”
Researchers at the Oxford Martin School, Environmental Change Institute and Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford have been working on what it would mean for a company to align itself with the Paris Agreement goals. Central to this is an acknowledgment of the need for its activities to become consistent with net zero carbon dioxide emissions, and a credible plan for achieving this – an approach recently published as the Oxford Martin Principles for Climate-Conscious Investment, and included in a recent manuscript published in Nature Climate Change.
At the request of the Bishop, a discussion paper was developed by the Oxford researchers that addresses the Church’s current approach, currently based around the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI). The latest TPI assessment, much like sciencebasedtargets.org, rates companies on their level of strategic engagement with the climate issue and on the emissions intensity of their activities and products out to 2030 or 2035, but does not, at present, address the need for a transition to net zero.
The researchers are therefore calling on investors to require that companies provide a board-level vision statement that maps out a plan to reduce net CO2 emissions to zero by the time global temperatures reach an agreed level, such as well below 2°C above pre-industrial. Only when such a plan is in place and under implementation will a company be in line with the Oxford Martin Principles for Climate-Conscious Investment, according to the authors.