Port Harcourt — The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ, and other 60 Civil Society Groups operating on the platform of the Peoples Annual General Meeting, have lauded the Church of England’s announcement of its intentions to disinvest from Shell and 10 other big oil and gas companies, after concluding none were aligned with efforts to halt global warming.
Recall that the Church of England’s Pension Board last week announced its intention to disinvest from Shell and 10 other oil companies, stating that the investment restriction will apply to all oil and gas companies which are failing to show sufficient ambition to decarbonise in line with the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
Reacting, Executive Director of ANEEJ and Convener of the Peoples Annual General Meeting, Rev. David Ugolor, 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.
Ugolor also urged the Church of England, being the biggest investor and shareholder in Shell, to find ways to support Niger Delta communities’ 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 governments from the global north should contribute to paying loss and damage to affected communities in line with the understanding reached at COP27,” Rev. Ugolor said.
Similarly, the National Coordinator of Publish What You Pay, Nigeria and co-chair of the Peoples AGM platform, Taiwo Otitolaye, also urged other big investors to emulate the Church of England.
Otitolaye recalled how the Peoples AGM at its inaugural meeting in May 2022, staged a protest at Shell’s office in Lagos, with a letter sent to the Church of England’s Headquarters in London demanding the Church’s divestment from Shell.
“The Peoples AGM 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.
“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.”
Also, the Executive Director of African Indigenous Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development, AIFES and co-chair of the Peoples AGM platform, Mr Legborsi Saro Pyagbara, applauded the Church of England for taking the bold step to divest from Shell.
“I must commend 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,” AIFES’ boss said.
It would 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 government currently supporting SHELL, Total Energies, Exxon Mobil and other oil companies in Nigeria to disinvest from funding fossil fuel extraction in Nigeria.
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