Wednesday, October 4

Church of England funds press TotalEnergies to exit Russia

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The Church of England’s Pensions Board and the manager of the church’s investment fund said on Tuesday they will reconsider their shareholding in French energy giant TotalEnergies over the company’s decision to not cut its business ties with Russia.

In a joint letter to the energy major’s Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne, the pension board and the Church Commissioners for England requested that TotalEnergies urgently reconsider its decision, noting it was at odds with the actions taken by many of its peers.

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TotalEnergies did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company has condemned Russia’s aggression, but has not followed the example of British peers BP and Shell , both of whom are withdrawing from Russia.

It was not immediately clear how large a stake the church’s funds hold in TotalEnergies. They did not respond to requests for comment on the question.

The church’s letter comes after two French NGOs – Greenpeace France and Les Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth) France – said they planned to take legal action against TotalEnergies over possible human rights abuses unless it cuts its business ties with Russia.

Russia represented 24% of TotalEnergies’ proven reserves and 17% of its combined oil and gas production in 2020, company documents show.

Activist investor Clearway Capital has also written to the board of TotalEnergies asking it to exit its operations in Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. (Reporting by Sneha Bhowmik and Shubham Kali in Bengaluru; Editing by Tim Ahmann)