The global fossil fuel divestment movement has been given a boost as 47 faith institutions announced a commitment to sell their shares in coal, oil and gas companies.
The divestment, coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, brings the total number of religious organisations that have divested from fossil fuels to 400, according to Christian climate campaign group Operation Noah.
Nine are from the UK, including two United Reformed Church Synods, five Catholic religious orders, one Church of England church and one Methodist church.
Revd Mark Pengelly, Minister of Trinity Methodist Church, Chelmsford, said members of his congregation were “very concerned that not enough action is being taken in response to the climate emergency”.
“We have to do more than just recognise a climate crisis is looming, we urgently need to take action to respond to it. By divesting our resources away from further development of fossil fuels, our Church Council is indicating a direction of travel that we must take, if we are to faithfully care for God’s good creation,” he said.
In October, the governing body of the Methodist Church voted to support a motion calling for divestment from fossil fuel companies not aligned with the Paris Agreement goals.
Earlier this year, DeSmog reported that charity fund manager CCLA had sold its remaining shares in fossil fuel companies from its CBF investment fund, one of the most popular investment funds used by Church of England dioceses.
CCLA said it was unlikely to reinvest in companies Shell and Total in the CBF funds, but that according to the Church of England’s ethical investment guidelines, which do not rule out investments in oil and gas, the companies were still eligible for investment.
DeSmog analysis found that Church of England dioceses held an estimated £18 million in fossil fuels, as of July.
Other institutions taking part in the divestment announcement include the Catholic Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union and American Jewish World Service.
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Robert Bank, President and CEO of American Jewish World Service, an international development and human right organisation, said they had divested from fossil fuels to “align fully how we invest our funds with our global grantmaking to combat climate change and secure climate justice for the most vulnerable people in the world, ensuring that we live our Jewish values and take up our enduring commitment to repair our broken world.”
The announcement follows the launch of a “10 Point Plan for a Green, Healthy and Fair recovery” earlier in November by the Climate Coalition, whose members include the United Reformed Church, Operation Noah and Christian Aid. Among its recommendations is a call for the UK government to “end all public support, both aid and export finance, for fossil fuels overseas and support countries instead to leapfrog to renewable and efficient energy, and energy access for all.”
James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Manager at Operation Noah, said: “It is hugely encouraging that so many faith institutions have stopped investing in the fossil fuel industry.”
“Churches need to divest from fossil fuel companies as a practical response to the climate emergency ahead of COP26 next year. The UK government urgently needs to end all public support for fossil fuels at home and overseas.”
Photo credit: Alexis Nethercleft/Wikimedia/CC BY–SA 4.0