More than 70 Church of Scotland delegates – including the outgoing moderator the Very Rev Susan Brown – have formally lodged their frustration at the decision of its general assembly not to divest from fossil fuels, with advocates describing Wednesday’s vote as “an embarrassing abdication of moral leadership”.

Although the general assembly voted to “recognise and affirm the declarations of the Scottish government, UK parliament and others that we are experiencing a climate and ecological emergency” on Wednesday morning, a counter-motion to disinvest from oil and gas companies by 2020 was narrowly defeated.

The divestment counter-motion, championed by Rev Gordon Strang, a minister from Grantown-on-Spey, fell by 303 votes to 263.