On Wednesday morning, the day of ExxonMobil's AGM, a coalition of faith and non-faith groups are staging events to call for the Church of England to divest from the company.
Demonstrators will gather outside the Fawley refinery (SO45 1SQ) at 6.30-9am to hand leaflets to staff as they enter. Then at 4pm, faith and non-faith groups will gather for a Vigil outside Salisbury Cathedral (SP1 2EN High St entrance), and will hand a letter into the office of the Bishop of Salisbury, the lead bishop for Environmental Affairs in the Church of England, requesting that the Church divests from ExxonMobil.
Hours before the resolution on climate change at ExxonMobil's AGM in Houston, Texas - put forward by a group of institutional investors, including the Church of England - campaigners will be calling for the Church to sell its shares in the company whatever the outcome of the resolution.
At 9.30am, Time to Cycle will lead a bike ride through the New Forest between the two locations.
Ruth Jarman, a member of the Church of England said: "When the Church should be showing moral leadership to protect the millions of lives devastated every year by climate change, they're being taken for a ride by the very company causing the problem. By continuing to hope that ExxonMobil is going to change its stripes, the Church of England is buying cover for one of the most notorious companies blocking action on climate change, including funding climate denying politicians and fake science.
"The Church of England needs to wake up, follow the example of hundreds of other faith leaders around the world and cut its ties with these companies. The church should be filling the moral void created by these companies, not falling into it."
Sigurd Reimers, of Grandparents for a Safe Earth, said: "Shareholder engagement is often an excellent way to make a company more ethical. But it takes time. And we don't have time. This resolution is a 'step zero' in the task of fixing ExxonMobil. It is simply asking ExxonMobil to disclose the effect of climate change on its business when we should be asking the exact opposite - for it to disclose the effect of its business on climate change. And to act on that information."
Alison Craig, of the Salisbury Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, said: "The resolution at the AGM is a distraction. The Church of England needs to get out of oil and gas, starting with ExxonMobil. If the motion is defeated, they must divest from ExxonMobil. If the motion goes through, they must divest from ExxonMobil."
Fawley is the only ExxonMobil refinery in the UK, and is the largest and most complex in Europe.
The AGM Resolution by a group of investors, including the Church of England, is to call for ExxonMobil to disclose the extent to which global action to tackle climate change will negatively impact the company's future earnings
The strategy of 'engagement' by the Church with fossil fuel companies does not go far enough for divestment campaigners. For example a letter to the Church Times by three bishops and 27 other clergy on 5/5/17 called for the church pensions board to divest from fossil fuels.
In 2015 the Church moved to divest £12m from tar sands oil and thermal coal from its £9bn fund but has resisted calls for all out fossil fuel divestment. Church Commissioners have declined to disclose the sum invested in ExxonMobil, thought to be millions: their Annual Report (page 78) discloses the identify of their top 20 holdings only.
On 15th May 2017 The Guardian reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, played a crucial role in the decision by the investment company BMO Global Asset Management, to dump £20m of shares in firms such as BHP Billiton, the Anglo-Australian mining giant, because of climate change. The Archbishop is President of BMO's responsible investment committee.
More information on the Divest ExxonMobil Day can be found at https:// christianclimateaction. wordpress.com/2017/05/19/ divest-ExxonMobil-day-join-us/
The campaigners' coalition includes 350.org, Christian Climate Action, Fossil Free UK, Grandparents for a Safe Earth, Salisbury Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, Salisbury Greenpeace, Time to Cycle.
There is a petition to register support for the Church of England to divest from fossil fuels here.
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