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article imageMajor wealth funds, Church of England get tough on climate change

By Karen Graham     Jul 10, 2018 in World
With managed and invested funds totaling close to $3 trillion, six of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, as well as the Church of England, have made major commitments to fighting climate change.
The funds met with French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday to work out a strategy to better support the goals of the Paris climate agreement. The six funds manage assets with a total value of $3 trillion and include Norway — which has the biggest in the world, valued alone at $1 trillion.
Besides Norway, funds from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and New Zealand make up the six. They have all signed the charter — expressing the hope the agreement would "tilt the trajectory of the world economy towards sustainable growth and avoid catastrophic risks for the planet."
Beyond the colossal amounts these funds manage, it’s the snowball effect we’re betting on,” said one French Government adviser, leading up to the meeting on Friday, according to the Reuters news agency. “By getting them to make this joint pledge, there will be a ricochet effect spreading across global finance.”
International Monetary Fund
Guidelines and obligations
There are two things the charter will make clear: One, it will set guidelines on where to invest. And two: it places obligations on companies to report on their carbon footprint. Norway's sovereign fund has already taken steps to exclude fossil fuel companies from its list of assets — divesting from 77 companies in the coal industry.
"The transition to a low-carbon economy creates new investment opportunities," the six funds said in the charter. Norway is also considering a recommendation to rid itself of all its petroleum holdings. New Zealand has announced it will ban future offshore oil and gas exploration.
This latest agreement dates back to the One Planet Summit held in December, organized by Macron after U.S President Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accord. Trump faced global condemnation for saying the accord was a "bad deal" for the U.S. economy.
It was then that Macron stepped up, becoming a leader in the fight against global climate change with his catchphrase "Make our planet great again" — a direct hit at Trump's "Make America great again" campaign slogan.
Canterbury Cathedral is the cathedral of the Diocese of Canterbury and the mother church of the Chur...
Canterbury Cathedral is the cathedral of the Diocese of Canterbury and the mother church of the Church of England.
Hans Musil
Church of England exes all fossil fuels
At the Church of England's General Synod, an amendment to divest from all fossil fuel companies not taking steps to mitigate climate change passed with a resounding 374 delegates voting in favor of the amendment and only four opposing it.
This means that by 2023 the church will divest from any company which has not aligned itself with the Paris climate agreement and has not taken seriously the transition to a low-carbon economy. The church is a major asset owner with a £12 billion endowment and investment fund.
Up to now, the Church of England has sought to engage with carbon-intensive companies in an effort to get them to bring about changes in their company's attitudes toward global warming.
The 2023 deadline is several years later than what had been proposed, but this gives the church time to wield its political influence as a significant shareholder and to advocate for reform.
The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, said the Synod had given the go-ahead for the Church Commissioners, which oversees its investments, to “turn up the heat on businesses”.
Christian Aid’s Head of UK Advocacy, Tom Viita, said the agreement “shows the bell is tolling for the fossil fuel era.”
More about wealth funds, church of england, Climate change, Strategy, France
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