Could your church join the Global Divestment Announcement?


UPDATED: New date for global divestment announcement: 18 May 2020. Please read the following.

Operation Noah is joining with partners around the world to invite local churches, religious orders and Christian organisations of all denominations to join a global divestment announcement on 26-28 March 2020. 

The global divestment announcement for faith institutions is being organised in collaboration with the World Council of Churches, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, Green Anglicans and GreenFaith.

Ivybridge Methodist Church celebrate divesting from fossil fuels (Photo Credit: Sophie Phillips)

This is a powerful action that your church (or faith institution) can take in response to the climate emergency, shifting investments out of the problem and into the solution. It involves making a commitment to divest (disinvest) any investments in fossil fuel companies within a five year timeframe. Even if your church 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.

The Church of Scotland will be discussing its investments in fossil fuels at its General Assembly later this year, and similar discussions are taking place in the Methodist Church and Church in Wales. Local church divestment commitments are integral to raising the profile of divestment at a national level and influencing key decision makers.

Why divestment matters in 2020

The year ahead is a pivotal year for climate action, as the devastating impacts of the climate emergency become increasingly evident. By divesting from fossil fuels, Churches 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.

2020 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 temperature rise to 1.5°C. Even a 1.5°C temperature increase will bring profound changes to the earth’s climate – with severe human and environmental consequences.

Institutions and organisations with investments in fossil fuel companies are increasingly making the decision to sell those shares (or divest) and go ‘fossil free’. The total value globally of divesting institutions is now over $12 trillion.

At the start of 2020, divestment is higher than ever on the global agenda. Earlier this month, Greta Thunberg and other youth strikers called for action on divestment, increasing the pressure on all institutions to end their investment in fossil fuel companies. In recent days, it was announced that half of UK universities have committed to divest from fossil fuels. 

Churches are a key part of the divestment movement, with faith-based organisations representing 29% of institutions making divestment commitments. In January this year, 20 UK Christian organisations committed to divest from fossil fuels – including the first two Catholic dioceses in England and the first local Methodist church to divest

Archbishop Tutu and Al Gore make joint call for divestment

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and former US Vice President Al Gore recently warned in a joint statement that ‘corporations, governments and institutions that continue to invest in fossil fuels despite all the evidence of their effect on accelerating climate change are furthering environmental, economic and social injustice’. 

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and former US vice president Al Gore at their recent meeting in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo Credit: Roger Friedman, Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation)

Their joint statement highlighted that ‘fossil fuels drive northern hemisphere industrialisation and development’ but most dangerously impact those in developing countries in the southern hemisphere who can ‘least afford to mitigate the impacts of climate change and would bear the highest costs.’

Tutu and Gore are calling on individuals, institutions, industries and countries who ‘remain invested in fossil fuels’ to ‘urgently commit to clear and actionable plans to shift their investments to renewable sources of energy…to provide the necessary impetus to drive down costs and increase demand for clean energy.’

If you would be interested in getting your local church or regional Church structures (dioceses and equivalents) to make a divestment commitment and join the Global Divestment Announcement, we would be delighted to hear from you! Please get in touch with Helena Ritter on helena.ritter@operationnoah.org

Global Divestment Announcement Statement

The World Council of Churches, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, Green Anglicans, Operation Noah and GreenFaith invite religious and spiritual institutions from around the world to join a multi-faith global divestment announcement on 26-28 March 2020.

Any groups interested in joining the announcement will confirm (i) that they have divested from fossil fuel investments; or (ii) that they will divest from any investments in fossil fuels as soon as possible, and within five years at the latest; or (iii) that they do not hold any fossil fuel investments and will not invest in fossil fuels in the future.

Divestment from fossil fuel holdings is a powerful act of faith that hundreds of religious institutions around the world have taken to respond to the climate emergency. It represents the shifting of investments out of an industry that is a primary cause of climate change. Furthermore, an increasing number of values-driven investors are investing in solutions to the crisis, and are financing enterprises and initiatives providing access to clean, affordable energy, including zero-carbon energy solutions for the 850 million people without access to electricity.

Could your church join the Global Divestment Announcement?

If your faith institution has made a commitment to divest from fossil fuels that has not yet been announced, or would be able to do so by 19 March 2020, please contact us by then so that your commitment can be included in the multi-faith announcement (and so that we can secure a quote from you for inclusion in materials related to the announcement). The announcement will coincide with the Economy of Francesco conference in Assisi, Italy, at which prominent economists will be joined by 2,000 young adults from around the world.

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