Uniting Church in Australia joins growing list of Churches ditching fossil fuels


The UCA lists social, environmental and intergenerational justice amongst their reasons for voting to disinvest from fossil fuels; a decision likely to raise the ire of the Australian mining lobby.

There was very good news this week as the Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) became the latest Church to vote to disinvest from companies engaged in the extraction of fossil fuels. It’s a decision which is important and striking for three reasons:

Firstly, the UCA joins a rapidly expanding list of Churches around the world electing to disinvest from fossil fuel companies. It’s clear that the momentum of the disinvestment campaign continues to grow. The UCA decision comes hot on the heals of a vote by the World Council of Churches in July this year to disinvest from fossil fuels, and the call in April by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for an anti-apartheid style boycott of the fossil fuel industry.

Secondly, the mining lobby in Australia is powerful, well resourced and has been vociferous in attempts to put down calls for disinvestment. Earlier this year the Mineral Council of Australia set up ‘Australians for coal’ to promote the extraction and use of coal. The UCA decision will certainly not go unnoticed, and is highly likely to draw the fire of the pro-fossil fuel lobby in Australia. So it is very encouraging that the Church is prepared to stick its head above the parapet, and follow talk with action.

Thirdly, and most strikingly of all are the reasons given by the UCA for electing to shed fossil fuel investments. In their press release, UCA President the Rev Professor Andrew Dutney, said that with national governments reluctant to take difficult decisions, ‘it falls to us as members of the body of Christ to show leadership in taking action to reduce damaging pollution.’

He also described the decision as a matter of ‘social, environmental and intergenerational justice,’ drawing particular attention to small island states which have been calling on Australia to take the threat of global warming seriously. As Andrew Dutney put it, ‘We simply must act. Investment in fossil fuel industries does not support the change needed.’

And there is one other thing which stands out – the speed with which Churches are making these decisions and getting them ratified. Our hope is that UK denominations will take note and move swiftly and follow the Quakers to start the process of disinvestment from fossil fuel companies.

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Mark Letcher, Operation Noah Vice-chair