THE Bishop of Oxford used national radio this morning to urge the Church of England to stop funding climate change.

The Rt Rev Steven Croft told the Today program on Radio 4 that if the Church was to continue investing millions in oil and gas then it must put more pressure on companies to start changing.

He was speaking ahead of the General Synod this Sunday, where CofE bishops from around the world will debate a motion from the Bishop's Oxford Diocese to start ramping up the pressure on the companies in which it holds shares.

Speaking on Today, Dr Croft said: "The world is facing catastrophic climate change as a present reality and as a future imminent reality.

"The world thankfully has a global agreement to limit global warming to below two degrees - 2020 is a very key year when the world hopes to peak carbon and then reduce to zero carbon by 2050.

"It's been really important in these five years to engage with the fuel companies and the church commissioners and our investors have done a brilliant job.. but from 2020 we must not be investing in fossil fuel companies which are burning oil and gas which should be left in the ground."

He added: "It's fine if they have plans for the orderly transition in line with Paris, we shouldn't universally pull out of fossil fuels, but we mustn't be profiting from companies which are not keeping to the Paris agreement."

According to the campaign group Fossil Free, 'the Church of England invests more than £190 million in fossil fuel companies', thought to include some of the giants of the industry including Exxon Mobil and Shell.

In 2016, the Church enjoyed a whopping 17.1 per cent return on its entire investment portfolio.

As a shareholder in fossil fuel firms, the Church has the opportunity to apply pressure to look at more renewable energy sources and sustainable technology.

This Sunday, bishops will debate a motion that the Church's National Investment Bodies should be 'engaging urgently and robustly' with such companies.

However, the Oxford Diocese has put forward a more concrete amendment to strengthen the motion: “and to divest from any fossil-fuel company which is not on an unequivocal path by 2020 to aligning its business investment plan with the Paris Agreement to restrict global warming to well below 2°C”.

Speaking on Today, Dr Croft said: "I would still say that we have not yet seen sufficient change: we want to see trajectories extended out to 2050 and see how the fossil fuel companies are planning to step down their emissions."