One of the Church of England’s three investing bodies has quietly sold its last remaining shares in fossil fuels, worth an estimated £8.4 million.

CCLA, a leading fund manager which invests on behalf of charities including Anglican dioceses, said it had dropped its investments in oil giants Shell and Total earlier in the year for financial reasons. 

An estimated 39 out of 42 dioceses invest in one or more of CCLA’s six Church of England funds, with the recent divestment leaving up to 20 dioceses without any fossil fuel investments.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Coventry explained the funds no longer invested in fossil fuel companies “on the basis of the financial risks posed by the short to medium term outlook for the oil and gas markets.” CCLA confirmed that they shared this view, saying the decision was made for investment, rather than ethical, reasons.

CCLA said it was unlikely to re-invest in Shell and Total through its CBF Church of England funds, but that the companies were still eligible under the Church of England’s ethical investment guidelines.

The Church’s guidelines currently rule out investments in thermal coal and tar sands companies, but not oil and gas. In 2018 its governing body, the General Synod, voted to divest by 2023 from all oil and gas companies not on track to meet the Paris Agreement targets of keeping average global temperature increases to “well below” 2°C, beginning the divestment process this year.

CCLA said it defined fossil fuel companies as those which derive more than 10 percent of their revenue from the extraction, production and/or refining of oil and gas.