Global coalition of 42 faith institutions divest from fossil fuels


Together with our friends at the World Council of Churches, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, Green Anglicans and GreenFaith, we are pleased to share a global divestment announcement of faith organisations. 

Today, 42 faith institutions from 14 countries, including 21 from the UK, announce their divestment from fossil fuels. This is the largest-ever joint announcement of divestment from fossil fuels from faith institutions. It comes from institutions in the UK, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Myanmar, Spain and the United States.

Today’s multi-faith announcement comes from Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, United Reformed, Baptist, Quaker and Buddhist institutions, among others, with over £1.1 billion in assets under management. The group includes the Catholic Diocese of Arundel & Brighton, the Jesuits in Britain, three United Reformed Church (URC) Synods, Oasis Churches and Global Charity, four Quaker meetings, three Methodist churches and Westminster College Cambridge (a URC theological college).

The Bishop of Arundel & Brighton, Rt Revd Richard Moth, said: ‘Care for the world that has been given to us is an increasingly pressing need. It is therefore timely that the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton divests from fossil fuels. This positive step will contribute to the common good and, I trust, pave the way for further practical action to safeguard this and future generations.’

The Jesuits in Britain are one of the UK organisations participating in the global divestment announcement (photo credit: Bokani Tshidzu)

A key moment for action on the climate crisis

Earlier this month, our new report showed that none of the major oil companies are compliant with the Paris agreement targets. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rt Revd Dr Rowan Williams, said in response to the report: ‘The current health crisis has highlighted as never before the need for coherent international action in the face of global threat. Can we learn the lesson and apply it to the global threat of climate change? To do so means taking practical and effective steps to reduce our lethal dependence on fossil fuels.’

The need for a just recovery that puts people and planet at its heart

Illustrating the need for a just recovery, the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace in Bangladesh is among those committing to divest from fossil fuels.

Bangladesh is home to the world’s largest refugee camp, where more than half a million people live near the Bay of Bengal. The Bay of Bengal is extremely vulnerable to the greater risk of catastrophic storms that come with climate change. A viral pandemic and a catastrophic storm would bring one of the world’s most vulnerable communities to a halt, illustrating the need to repair the faults that have left economies near breaking point.

Father Endra Wijayanta, director of the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Commission for the Archdiocese of Semarang, in Indonesia, said: ‘In this COVID-19 pandemic, it is the exact time not only to reflect, but to act. We have to stop our ecological spiral of death. We have to revive our ecological hope, in massive repentance of humankind, by taking the pathway to more sustainable living.’

Organisations joining the global divestment announcement

A full list of the 42 institutions divesting from fossil fuels and statements from leaders can be found here.

The UK organisations announcing their divestment commitments are as follows:
• Diocese of Arundel & Brighton (Catholic Church)
• Jesuits in Britain (Catholic Church)
• Sisters of St Josephs of Peace (UK) (Catholic Church)
• West Midlands Synod (United Reformed Church)
• Northern Synod (United Reformed Church)
• Mersey Synod (United Reformed Church)
• Trinity United Church, Ringwood (United Reformed Church)
• Westminster College, Cambridge (United Reformed Church)
• Lancaster Methodist Church (Methodist)
• Stroud Methodist Church (Methodist)
• Banner Cross Methodist Church, Sheffield (Methodist)
• Wellspring Church, Wirksworth (Baptist/Methodist)
• Dronfield Baptist Church (Baptist)
• St Peter and St Pauls, Chaldon (Church of England)
• Dunscore Parish Church (Church of Scotland)
• Oasis Churches and Global Charity (Non-denominational network of churches and charity)
• Sussex East Quaker Area Meeting (Quakers in Britain)
• North East Thames Quaker Trust (Quakers in Britain)
• York Quaker Area Meeting (Quakers in Britain)
• Hereford Quaker Local Meeting (Quakers in Britain)
• Triratna Buddhist Community Highlands (Buddhist)

Divestment from fossil fuels and investment in the future

The global divestment announcement comes at the start of Laudato Si’ Week, a global commemoration of the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change and ecology. Last month, 21 Catholic organizations with $40 billion in assets under management committed to invest in companies that align with their values by signing the Catholic Impact Investing Pledge.

James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Manager at Operation Noah, said: ‘The decisions we make now will affect the future of humanity for thousands of years. These faith institutions are showing strong leadership in response to the climate crisis, and we urge governments around the world to follow their lead in ending support for fossil fuels and investing in the clean technologies of the future.’

Statements from leaders

Tomás Insua, executive director of Global Catholic Climate Movement, said: ‘Every dollar invested in fossil fuels is a vote for suffering. These institutions are taking prophetic action to light the way towards a more just and sustainable future because now more than ever, we need to protect our communities and build a just recovery together.’

Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, World Council of Churches Deputy General Secretary said: ‘We reiterate the urgent concerns of Christians around the world in relation to climate change and its adverse effects on the whole of creation. The moral imperative of fossil fuel divestment and of investing in a low-carbon path to realizing economic, social, and ecological wellbeing and sustainability for the whole creation is more urgent than ever.’

Rev Rachel Mash, Coordinator of Green Anglicans (Anglican Church of Southern Africa), said: ‘The COVID-19 crisis shows us that our current way of living is unsustainable, we are sick because the Earth is sick.  We cannot go back to normal, we must grow back to a new way of sustainable living. As we move into a post COVID-19 era, we must move away from sources of energy that contribute to climate change and air pollution.’

Reverend Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith, said: ‘Extractive corporations, and the banks that finance them, are demanding government bailouts and the dismantling of environmental protections in the middle of a global pandemic and economic collapse. The idea that precious funds should bail out the world’s wealthiest corporations, not the people whose lives are at stake, is hard to fathom. This injustice is wrong. This is the time to rethink how we relate to one another and the earth. The religious groups announcing their divestment from fossil fuels today are stepping into the breach at a time when nothing is the same and everything has to change.’

Yossi Cadan, Global Finance Campaign Manager at 350.org, said: ‘Once again, faith groups continue to lead the way and clearly indicate to the rest of the world that any future investments or stimulus funds must exclude fossil fuels and yield long-term structural emissions reductions. The solutions to the economic crisis are the solutions to the climate crisis. The economic downturn must be an opportunity to accelerate the transition needed towards low- and zero-carbon. And any financial intervention, including investors, needs to put people and their livelihoods front and centre.’

Divest your church 

If you would be interested in getting your local church or regional Church structures (dioceses and equivalents) to make a divestment commitment, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please get in touch with Bokani Tshidzu on bokani.tshidzu@operationnoah.org for further information or to register your interest.

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