The Church of Scotland has been urged to scrap its investments in fossil fuels.

The call comes ahead of a debate on the issue at the Kirk's 2019 General Assembley in Edinburgh.

Last year's meeting asked the Kirk's ruling council to discuss the issue of climate change with the three oil and gas companies in which they currently hold shares - Shell, BP and Total.

A report to this year's meeting states: "The outcome of this process to date is informative, but concerning.

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"All three companies are aware of climate change and all have made some investment in low carbon alternatives to gas and oil, but all remain at heart, businesses whose main objectives is the exploration, extraction and sale of oil and gas.

"Engagement may result in oil companies becoming aware of our concerns, but their core activity remains the damaging extraction of fossil fuels. The oil and gas business is too vast and too profitable to withdraw from, despite its shocking consequences for global warming."

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The report, which will be discussed today, goes on to call for the General Assembly to seek a transition to a low carbon economy as "an urgent priority".

Ross Greer, the Green MSP for the West of Scotland and a member of the Church of Scotland’s National Youth Assembly, called for action.

He said: "Assembly commissioners will have the chance to follow through on that brave rhetoric with necessary action by voting for a fresh divestment proposal.

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"With governments and communities across the world declaring a climate emergency and thousands of Scottish pupils joining over a million others in walking out of school to protest this crisis, surely this is the moment for the Kirk to take the painless step of making sure our own house is in order?

"Taking what we have invested in these destructive industries and moving it to the clean industries of the future is not only one small step to stop the climate crisis, it is also responsible stewardship of our finances."

A report of a two-year internal inquiry for the Kirk's 2018 General Assembly  called for an end to oil and gas extraction to protect the environment.

The report by the Kirk's church and society council said: "It is deeply uncomfortable for the church, as a caring organisation concerned about climate justice, to continue to invest in something which causes the very harm it seeks to alleviate.

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“While we have profited from oil and gas exploration in the past, we now understand financing future exploration and production will ... delay the transition to a low-carbon economy."