WE write in response to the letter from Ian Cooper (October 28) regarding Church of Scotland investments.

There are many experienced members of the Church of Scotland who, like ourselves, wholly endorse the points made by Ross Greer MSP ("Kirk 'must divest from fossil fuels if it is to lead society'", The Herald, October 23).

With the UN climate talks coming to Glasgow in November 2020, the Church of Scotland has a particular opportunity to send a powerful message about the importance of a just transition by divesting from fossil fuels and increasing investment in clean alternatives.

Globally, more than 1,100 institutions with a combined $11.5 trillion of assets under management have made fossil fuel divestment commitments, including the World Council of Churches, the Church of Ireland and the United Reformed Church.

Mr Cooper argues that divestment has little effect on major oil companies. Yet Shell acknowledged the impact of divestment in its 2017 annual report: "Some groups are pressuring certain investors to divest their investments in fossil fuel companies. If this were to continue, it could have a material adverse effect on the price of our securities and our ability to access equity capital markets."

Despite the best efforts of our colleagues to engage with major oil and gas companies, their pleas are clearly falling on deaf ears. Shell and Exxon are planning to increase production of fossil fuels by 35 per cent by 2030, while global carbon emissions need to decrease by 45 per cent by 2030 to meet the 1.5C target of the Paris Agreement. All of the major oil companies, including BP and Total, plan to increase production of fossil fuels in the next decade.

Mr Cooper's letter highlights Shell's tree-planting efforts, which would be "sufficient they claim to absorb all of the carbon produced by their extracting of fossil fuels". This is not true – in reality, the tree planting will offset only a small fraction of the company's overall carbon emissions. It is also the case that reducing consumption – by burning less fossil fuel – is far preferable to offsetting.

In conclusion, we stand at a crucial moment in history, and it is vital that the Church of Scotland divests from fossil fuels at next year's General Assembly. We must recognise that, as Greta Thunberg has said, "the house is on fire", and act with the urgency that the climate emergency requires of us.

Susan Brown (Former Moderator of the Church of Scotland), Dornoch; Sally Foster-Fulton (Former Convener of the Church of Scotland Church & Society Council), Glasgow; Jenny Adams (parish minister), Duffus, Elgin.

AS a Church of Scotland member, I was dismayed by Iain Cooper’s letter. He claims that Ross Greer and other divestment campaigners lack "a sound knowledge of basic economics". Yet the Governor of the Bank of England, the Environmental Audit Committee and major global fund managers have all highlighted that continued fossil fuel investment is a major financial risk as governments legislate for net zero emissions and renewables become cheaper.

Equally puzzling is Mr Cooper’s assertion that the Church’s removal of its fossil fuel investments "would have no effect whatsoever on the industry’s production of oil and gas". With commitments from more than 1,100 institutions, fossil fuel divestment is growing rapidly around the world and the fossil fuel industry itself recognises divestment as a material risk to its finances.

Mr Cooper also fails to mention that engagement with fossil fuel companies has not succeeded in influencing their behaviour. Far from reducing their emissions, fossil fuel companies have committed billions to developing new oil and gas reserves and lobbying to prevent climate action, while dedicating just three per cent of their spending to clean energy. These corporations are locking us into emissions that our planet cannot support.

The Church of Scotland has made a vital commitment to care for creation and support the transition from fossil fuels to renewables. The best way to achieve these admirable aims is to stop funding the companies which are most responsible for the climate crisis and to reinvest in a Just Transition to genuinely green solutions.

It is a profound injustice that those who are least responsible for creating the climate crisis are suffering the most and the Kirk’s divestment would send a clear message of solidarity to communities around the world. Last month, 22 faith groups made divestment commitments, including the United Reformed Church and the Scottish Episcopal Church. It is time for the Church of Scotland to join them.

Sally Clark, Giffnock.