The Archdiocese of Birmingham divests from fossil fuels


Today, the Archdiocese of Birmingham announced that it has divested from companies which extract fossil fuels with immediate effect, becoming the first Archdiocese in England and Wales to do so.

St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham (Photo credit: Tony Hisgett)

The Archdiocese changed its policy to exclude investments in any company which derives more than 5% of its revenues from fossil fuels and is joining the ranks of all those who have committed to attaining net zero carbon emissions by 2030. Divestment from fossil fuels is one of the first steps of many which the Archdiocese is taking to ensure that they will not fund the industries which destroy God’s creation and impact people living in poverty.

Four other Catholic dioceses in England and Wales have divested from fossil fuels, as well as several Catholic dioceses in Ireland. These include the dioceses of Lancaster, Middlesbrough, Arundel & Brighton and Hallam. Several religious orders, including Jesuits in Britain, have also taken this prophetic step.

Fossil fuel divestment is a powerful act of faith that hundreds of religious institutions around the world have taken to respond to the climate emergency. It increases pressure on governments and financial institutions to end financing for the fossil fuel industry. Many UK Churches have taken the important step of fully divesting from fossil fuels, including the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union, the Church in Wales and the Church of Scotland.

Furthermore, an increasing number of faith investors are investing in solutions to the climate crisis, and providing access to clean, affordable energy, including zero-carbon energy solutions for the 800 million people without access to electricity.

Announcing the decision to divest, Archbishop Bernard Longley said: ‘Our commitment to divestment in fossil fuels is a response both to the cry of the earth and of the poor, taking us one step further towards its consolation.

‘We join many other faith organisations who are making the ethical choice to ‘shun companies that are harmful to human or social ecology… and to the environment’, as Pope Francis calls us to do in the Vatican’s manual Journeying Towards Care For Our Common Home. To see so many united in this aim gives me great hope for the future.’

James Buchanan, Bright Now Campaign Manager at Operation Noah, said: ‘It is wonderful news that the Archdiocese of Birmingham has taken the significant step of divesting from fossil fuel companies – joining a movement of more than 200 Catholic organisations around the world. 

‘As the UK prepares to host the crucial UN climate talks, COP26, later this year, we hope this will inspire more Catholic dioceses and religious orders to divest from fossil fuels and invest in solutions to the climate crisis.’

Divest your church 

The Archdiocese of Birmingham will be part of the global divestment announcement to be made by the World Council of Churches, Laudato Si’ Movement, Operation Noah, Green Anglicans and GreenFaith on Tuesday 26 October, joining other dioceses and many other faith organisations from around the world who will announce their commitment to ethical investment.

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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