ANEEJ, People’s AGM Hails Church of England Pension Board’s decision to disinvest from Shell, others
By: Femi Mustapha
The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, and the leadership of over 60 Civil Society Organisations operating on the platform of the Peoples Annual General Meeting have welcomed the Church of England Pensions Board’s announcement of its intentions to disinvest from SHELL and other oil and gas companies which are failing to show sufficient ambition to decarbonise in line with the aims of the Paris Agreement.
ANEEJ Executive Director and Convener of the Peoples Annual General Meeting, Rev. David stated this in a statement made available to the media in Kaduna on 27th June, 2023. .
The Group however, urged the Church of England to consider the communities in the Niger Delta who do not have the luxury of moving on from the devastation and environmental degradation left in the wake of oil exploration by oil companies, and urged the Church to find ways to support their quest for justice.
“We are highly delighted that the Church has kept its commitment to divest from companies that are not Paris aligned, which put the church on the side of the people.
” We believe that the Church has a responsibility to help make right the injustices suffered by communities in the Niger Delta during the time that it invested in oil companies operating in Nigeria.
“We also believe that companies and their investors, as well as the governments of the global north should contribute to paying loss and damage to affected communities in line with the understanding reached at COP27. ” Rev David Ugolor said.
Taiwo Otitolaye, the National Coordinator of Publish What You Pay, Nigeria and co-chair of the peoples AGM platform noted that “It is a good opportunity to encourage other big investors in oil and gas companies like the Norges Bank Investment Management, Vanguard, Blackrock, Legal and General Investment management and others, to follow the example of the Church of England Pensions Board, to save the world from the imminent climate catastrophe.”
Otitolaye recalled how the Peoples AGM at its inaugural meeting, convened by ANEEJ and PWYP, Nigeria as one of its two Co-chairs, staged a protest at Shell’s office in Lagos May 2022; with a letter sent to the Church of England’s Headquarters in London demanding the Church’s divestment from Shell.
The platform which also connected other CSOs and partners in the Diaspora on this advocacy is happy to see this coming to fruition just one year after.
On his part, Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, the Executive Director of African Indigenous Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development (AIFES) and co-chair of the Peoples AGM platform also commended the Church of England for taking this bold and honourable step to divest its shares from Shell, a major polluter of our Environment, endangering global climate with her heavy carbon emissions.
It would be recalled that the Church of England on Thursday, June 22, 2023, while formally announcing its intention to disinvest from Shell and other oil companies clearly stated that the investment restriction will apply to all oil and gas companies that do not have short-, medium- and long-term emissions reduction targets aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, as assessed by the independent Transition Pathway Initiative.
It would also be recalled that in May 2023, ANEEJ convened the second peoples AGM in Abuja, Nigeria, where Civil Society Organisations working on the issue re-stated their earlier call on the companies’ major investors to go to the Niger Delta for the fact-finding mission to see for themselves the level of pollution and destruction being faced by the people. The peoples AGM also resolved to undertake high-level advocacy to engage the investors and the government currently supporting SHELL, Total Energies, Exxon Mobil and other oil companies in Nigeria to disinvest from funding fossil fuel extraction in Nigeria.