The World Council of Churches, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, Operation Noah, Green Anglicans and Green Faith are inviting religious and spiritual institutions to commit to divest (disinvest) from fossil fuels and join a global divestment announcement on 26-28 March 2020.
More than 160 Catholic organisations around the world have now made commitments to divest from fossil fuels. In January, Middlesbrough and Lancaster Dioceses joined the Epiphany Declaration for Fossil Free Churches, becoming the first Catholic dioceses in England and Wales to divest. Several Catholic religious orders in the UK have also made divestment commitments, including the Passionists, the Congregation of Jesus, the Religious Sisters of Charity, the Presentation Sisters and Franciscan Sisters Minoress.
The year 2020 is a crucial time for climate action. It must be the peak year of overall global greenhouse gas emissions, with a rapid decline in emissions through to 2030, if we are to limit global average temperature rises to 1.5°C. By divesting from fossil fuels, Churches and faith organisations can demonstrate moral leadership and emphasise the need for urgent action from the UK Government, especially with the UN climate talks (COP26) set to take place in Glasgow in November 2020.
The extraction and burning of fossil fuels is one of the main drivers of the growing climate crisis. In spite of the climate emergency, the fossil fuel industry is planning to increase production and invest trillions of pounds in exploration and extraction of new fossil fuel reserves over the next decade, when the vast majority of known reserves must remain in the ground if we are to have any chance of meeting global climate targets.
Last October, a Guardian report showed that Shell and Exxon are planning to increase production of oil and gas by 35% between 2018 and 2030 - the 12 years when global carbon emissions need to fall by 45% if we are to meet the Paris Agreement target of limiting global average temperature rises to 1.5°C.
Divestment from fossil fuels is a powerful action that faith institutions can take in response to the climate emergency - shifting investments out of the problem and into the solution. It involves a commitment to divest any investments in fossil fuel companies within a five year timeframe. Even if your faith institution doesn't currently hold investments (for instance if it only has a bank account), it can make a strong statement by pledging to not invest in fossil fuels in the future.
While investments in fossil fuel companies were historically considered a safe investment, they are now seen as increasingly risky. The former Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, warned in a recent interview that unless firms wake up to the climate crisis, many of their assets will become 'worthless'.
Catholic dioceses and religious orders may hold investments in fossil fuel companies. Operation Noah, the World Council of Churches, the Global Catholic Climate Movement and others are inviting faith institutions such as these to divest from fossil fuel companies and join the global divestment announcement.
If you would be interested in finding out more about how your diocese, religious order or faith institution can divest from fossil fuels, visit the Bright Now website or contact Helena Ritter on [email protected]
Operation Noah is a Christian charity working with the Church to inspire action on the climate crisis: www.operationnoah.org
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