A robust and rigorous review of the Church of England’s shareholding in Caterpillar Inc – the US-based manufacturer of construction and mining equipment - has resulted in a decision by the Church’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) not to recommend disinvestment at this time.
In May of this year, the EIAG committed itself to a period of consultation and engagement following representations made to it about the Church’s investment in Caterpillar. The Group was informed in its decision by the fact that there have been no sales for some years now, and this, together with possibilities in the present delicate political negotiations, made it the wrong time to recommend disinvestment. However, the EIAG was clear that, were sales to resume, the matter would have to be revisited.
The EIAG has now issued this response to the interested parties:
In May, following representations made about the use of Caterpillar equipment in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) gave careful consideration to the Church of England’s investment in Caterpillar Inc. As a result it committed itself to a period of consultation and engagement with all interested parties encompassing the company, and groups representing Jewish, Palestinian and Christian opinion. This was carried out over the summer. The Group is grateful for the thoughtful contributions made by all those whom it has consulted, and to whom it has listened. Engagement with Caterpillar and other parties will continue.
The EIAG met on 12 September to reflect further on the representations it had received. The Group has listened with care to the many points that have been made and has sought to balance its recommendation with its reflections on the information that has been gathered. As a result of this process the EIAG has determined:
that its May decision not to advocate disinvestment from Caterpillar should be continued, particularly at the present time of political fluidity given Israel’s disengagement from Gaza. However, the EIAG is concerned at the uses to which the Israeli authorities have put Caterpillar machines in the past. It will therefore actively monitor the situation, and review this decision rigorously if further sales are made that appear likely to result in the destruction of infrastructure or to place lives or livelihoods at risk. As part of its reflection, the EIAG affirms support for prayerful efforts towards lasting peace in the Middle East. To that end the EIAG believes that a dialogue around investment and reconstruction in both Israel and Palestine is crucial if conditions that allow peace and justice to prevail are to be nurtured.
EIAG Chairman, the Ven Ian Russell (Archdeacon of Coventry 1989-2000), said: “We have now looked with great care at issues both of fact and of principle in a situation which is neither simple nor static. Strongly held views have been put to us with conviction and force. We have concluded that current circumstances do not justify a recommendation to disinvest, but that it will be essential for us to continue to keep in close touch with relevant developments”.
The Church of England established the EIAG in 1994 to offer advice and guidance, and to co-ordinate policy on ethical investment issues for the Church’s central investment bodies: the Church Commissioners, the Central Board of Finance, and the Church of England Pensions Board. The EIAG is also responsible for keeping the policy under review to ensure its continued relevance.
The EIAG has no investment powers of its own but acts in a wholly advisory capacity. It is the responsibility of the Trustees of each separately constituted investment body to decide whether to implement the advice given.
The Church’s investment in Caterpillar Inc was valued at the end of the last financial year at just under £2.2 million. The Church Commissioners owned shares worth some £2 million, and CBF Church Funds £190,000.
(Source: The above notes were included as part of the original C of E report.)