Andrew Selous: The Mission and Public Affairs Division of the Archbishop’s Council is in regular contact with the Freedom of Religion or Belief Team at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and has engaged on this issue with relevant embassy staff when travelling overseas. They have also had a series of meetings with the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Freedom of Religion or Belief since his appointment. Senior Church leaders have also had meetings with the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy in recent weeks.
Andrew Selous: All projects supported by the Strategic Development Funding are subject to monitoring and evaluation. The majority of projects are ongoing and it is too early to assess the full impact of the overall programme, but generally projects have already reported nearly 9,000 new disciples, increased activity on discipleship, and a wide range of projects engaging with local communities. Examples of projects that the Strategic Development Fund is enabling include food banks, help for new mothers, outreach to homeless people, engagement with those in prison, and hospitality and other forms of support for those living in deprived communities.
We specifically monitor and evaluate all projects funded by Strategic Development Funding, including their impact numerically, spiritually and in term of community impact. The Church of England also collects statistics annually from every church, including church plants and fresh expressions of church, as well as commissioning additional research on the wider impact of church planting.
The Commissioners have helped grow the number of companies involved in the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI), which is now backed by investors representing over $18 trillion of assets under management and advice. TPI scores companies according to the quality of their management of climate change issues and indicates whether their carbon emissions are aligned with the pathways required to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
In addition, the Commissioners have signed up to the Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance, requiring them to transition their portfolio to net zero emissions by 2050. The Alliance emphasises a change in the real economy and focuses on continued engagement with policymakers, companies and asset managers alongside low carbon investments, to create the conditions required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The Commissioners are part of Climate Action 100+ and through their own programmes encourage as many high-emitting companies as possible to meet their climate expectations. Whilst the Church can divest from companies not taking climate change seriously, they are expecting to implement their next round of climate-related restrictions by the end of 2020. In 2023 a further systematic round of restrictions is expected if companies still do not change after engagement efforts, with tougher thresholds focusing on alignment of the fossil fuel sector and electric utilities with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Following sustained engagement from the Church and other investors BP have recently announced their ambition to become a net-zero emissions company by 2050.
The Church of England Pensions Board have also recently launched a Paris-aligned passive investment index with FTSE Russell and announced a commitment of £600m to the new Index.
Jim Shannon (Strangford): 14668 To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what the outcomes were of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent visits to the (a) Democratic Republic of the Congo and (b) South Sudan.
B) The Archbishop and His Holiness Pope Francis remain committed to finding a peaceful way forward in South Sudan, and the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches have been jointly at the forefront of efforts to bring peace to the country. The Church is encouraged that some progress appears to be being made and the ceasefire is holding. However concerns remain that the South Sudanese Principals have not yet been able to find ways to resolve outstanding pre-transitional issues. While this situation continues it will be very difficult for His Holiness and the Archbishop to visit the country, which they have committed to doing together. Conversations are ongoing at an international level to encourage those in Government to use their power to find solutions that would enable all South Sudanese peoples to return home.
The 33 Primates who attended the meeting discussed preparations for the Lambeth Conference 2020 and also approved the formation of the new province of Alexandria, which covers Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa. They also discussed the proposal for the creation of the new province of the Church of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The full communique can be read here: https://aco.org/media/355576/primates-meeting-2020-communique.pdf
All this work on new technologies will feed into the Equipping Christian Leaders in an Age of Science project and the wider engagement of the Church on public affairs. In March 2020 three new pieces of research will begin. These are designed to deepen understanding of science and to resource and expand the reach of Church engagement. This research will take place at Durham University, York University and within the Mission and Public Affairs Division of the Archbishops’ Council.