THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND is facing insurrection from youth members criticising their investment in fossil fuels.
Fife youth members of the Church of Scotland (COS) kicked off a campaign after discovering that the church holds shares in companies making cash from oil.
The church currently manages an investment portfolio of £7.7m in a range of companies including Royal Dutch Shell, which has faced fierce criticism from environmental activists.
Now – after a sustained campaign from two youth members – the church has announced that it will reconsider its investment policy at the next general assembly.
The church already has a policy of ethical investment – which includes avoiding investment in arms, tobacco, alcohol and gambling.
But Tara Shannon and Hannah Dunlop – both 20 years-old, from Dalgety Parish Church – started a campaign to add fossil fuel companies to the list of banned investments.
Shannon, an IT worker for NHS Fife, said: “A friend of ours, Ben Kurzman, went to a youth climate talk in Istanbul and told us what was happening with investments.
“We decided to get the Church involved and started looking into their investments.
“At first we kind of hit a brick wall getting information in terms of what companies they were investing in and were they fossil fuel companies.”
Dunlop – currently taking a year out from her history degree at the University of Aberdeen, said she and Shannon had organised workshops and conferences to engage with members of the church on the issue.
She said: “People will be worried about divesting affecting pension funds and concerned about employees working in fossil fuels losing their jobs.
“So we’re suggesting reinvesting in renewables so people could switch to another sector.”
The Rev Sally Foster Fulton, convener of the Kirk’s church and society council, said: “Obviously this is a big issue, because it would mean the church looking at its investments including its pension and other funds and deciding if we need to sell any of our investments.
“The general assembly agreed to investigate the arguments for and against divestment from fossil fuel companies and called for a report to a future general assembly.
“A report will be prepared for the general assembly in May 2016.”