23

Sep

2014

As thousands march for climate action the Church of Sweden ditches fossil fuel companies

 

As hundreds of thousands of people marched in New York, London, and cities across the globe this weekend to call for a global deal on climate change, the Church of Sweden has become the latest national Church to eliminate fossil fuels from its investment portfolio.

The Church announced this week that it has removed gas companies from its portfolio to make its $691 million of assets fossil free.

One of the first institutions to take up divestment, the Church of Sweden now believes investments in fossil fuel companies are a risk. Gunnela Hahn, Head of Responsible Investment at the Church of Sweden said, ‘We see a financial risk in owning fossil fuel companies. Their value consists to a large extent of fossil fuel reserves that risk losing value since they cannot be extracted if we are to have a liveable planet.’

This decision came as world faith leaders gathered in New York for an Interfaith Summit on Climate Change. Representatives from 21 countries on six continents delivered a letter to the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN at the UN Climate Summit calling on governments to phase out fossil fuels subsidies and divest from or cap coal immediately.

The Church of Sweden’s decision to disinvest increases the pressure on the Methodist Church and Church of England, both of which retain large holdings in fossil fuel companies, to join the growing list of fossil free Churches. This list now includes the Uniting Church in Australia, the United Church of Christ in the US, six New Zealand Anglican dioceses and the Quakers in Britain.

This announcement will also resonate with local churches and dioceses in the UK that support Operation Noah’s call for the Church of England and the Methodist Church to disinvest from fossil fuel companies.

Speaking shortly after the announcement the Revd Dr Darrell Hannah, Rector from All Saints Church, Ascot Heath and an Operation Noah trustee said, ‘I hope the Church of England and other denominations in the UK will heed the call of the Swedish Church and the World Council of Churches. In particular, I call on the General Synod of the Church of England to disinvest from fossil fuels as soon as possible. If the Church is to be faithful to its calling, it really needs to be in the vanguard of this movement.’

On Sunday 21 September, Operation Noah supporters joined tens of thousands of people marching for climate action in London, while others marched across the UK in Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol, Sheffield, Stroud and Dudley. In London hundreds took part in an interfaith gathering to share Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s prayer for global solidarity in the face of the climate crisis.