Church Investment in Climate Solutions: Financing a Liveable Future


Our new Bright Now report, Church Investment in Climate Solutions: Financing a Liveable Future, calls on Churches to play a vital role in accelerating a fair and fast transition by investing in climate solutions.

The report presents how investment decisions that Churches and faith institutions make are a reflection of the Church, its beliefs and its values. Investing in climate solutions can be a significant way for Churches to stand in solidarity with the most marginalised communities and with the Earth.

Download the report

Download the Executive Summary

The Church and the climate, conflict and cost of living crises

As well as the climate crisis, the world is now facing an energy and cost of living crisis, especially as a result of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Given the need for greater energy security, investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency is needed at scale. If the world were to redirect the $570 billion of annual planned oil and gas investments towards renewables, this could fully finance wind and solar energy expansion in line with the 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement.

Churches can play a crucial role by investing in climate solutions and by using their prophetic voice to call on governments to implement policy that addresses the climate crisis at the speed and scale required.

Climate science and the increasing urgency of action

The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, published in the spring of 2022, highlighted that immediate and deep emissions reductions are needed across all sectors if we are to have any chance of limiting global heating to 1.5°C. It showed that transformation is needed in the systems that provide our energy, industry, transport, buildings, agriculture and land use.

While the scientific warnings are stark, including the risks of fast-approaching tipping points, every fraction of a degree matters and urgent action, with a rapid shift to clean energy and energy efficiency, could save the lives of millions of people.

Fossil fuel divestment and investment in a fair and fast transition

Most UK Churches have now completed divestment from fossil fuel companies. Increasing numbers of investment management companies offer ‘fossil free funds’, responding to demand from faith institutions and other clients. Yet the ethical investment process does not end with divestment. Churches and other faith institutions also need to consider the positive difference they wish to make in the world with their investments.

As they have in the fossil fuel divestment movement, Churches can shift markets and change public attitudes during this crucial decade when the world must cut global greenhouse emissions nearly in half. The report identifies examples of faith institutions leading the way on investment in climate solutions, including the Quakers in Britain, the Church of Ireland, the Diocese of Truro and the Church Commissioners (Church of England).

Climate solutions and the opportunities for investment

The report identifies various opportunities for investment in climate solutions, including:

  • Renewable energy, which is cheaper than fossil fuels, can be deployed more quickly and can close the energy access gap for 770 million people currently without electricity
  • Energy storage, a key technology for accelerating the decarbonisation of the electricity grid and which is forecast to grow by 15% as a result of policy developments in the US and EU 
  • Buildings and energy efficiency, from greener materials to the retrofitting of buildings
  • Public transport and electric vehicles, investment that will be needed to reduce the 15% contribution that transport currently makes to overall greenhouse gas emissions 
  • Land use and sustainable forestry, which FIIND Impact Foundation identifies as the second most ‘investable’ sector that it analysed, after electricity production
  • Clean cookstoves, an important solution in tackling global poverty and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as 2.8 billion people still lack access to clean cooking fuels

Church investment in climate solutions webinar

Operation Noah will hold a webinar examining the report’s findings at 7pm on Tuesday 22 November, with a panel including report authors Julia Corcoran and James Buchanan (Operation Noah); Lorna Gold (Director of Movement Building at FaithInvest and Chair of the Laudato Si’ Movement); John O’Shaughnessy (Chief Financial/Investment Officer at the Franciscan Sisters of Mary and Co-Chair of the Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative); Mike Sturgess (Chair of the Diocesan Board of Finance in the Diocese of Truro); and Stephen Trew (member of the Church of Ireland General Synod and campaigner).

Support for the Church investment in climate solutions report

Rt Revd Hugh Nelson, Bishop of St Germans in the Church of England’s Diocese of Truro, which recently invested £1.75 million in climate solutions: ‘The choices we make about finance and investment both describe and shape the future we want to see. If the Church is serious about cherishing creation and getting to net zero, we need to align our finances to that goal. This report is an important and practical encouragement towards that alignment.’

Rachel Lampard, Former Vice-President of the Methodist Conference: ‘To avoid climate disaster, we need systemic change – and this means that investors need to be thinking differently.  This report makes a vital contribution to this urgent conversation.’

Martin Palmer, CEO of FaithInvest: ‘To achieve the scale of investments necessary to turn the market towards a sustainable world and away from climate and biodiversity disaster, faith institutions have to take up the challenge of putting their money where their mouths are! And Churches in the UK have the resources to do this. Can we hope that it will also increase the actions necessary to help tip the balance? This report is a prophetic witness.’

Anne Schankin, Director at Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative: ‘The scale of the climate crisis challenges faith communities to boldly deploy their investable assets in service of people and planet. This excellent report provides an accurate picture of the climate crisis and, with hope, offers solutions and steps on how to begin, along with stories of organisations implementing positive, impactful investing strategies. I hope it will encourage many others to take action, so that together we can courageously build a more just and sustainable future, truly reflective of our faith values.’

Revd Dr Rachel Mash, Environmental Coordinator, Anglican Church of Southern Africa: ‘For the Global South, the climate crisis is not a future threat, but is a current lived catastrophe. What must Churches in wealthier nations do, recognising that these economies have been built on energy sources that have destabilised the climate? Africa suffers from energy poverty, and the only way out is through decentralised renewable energy. New fossil fuel projects will trap Africa in decades of debt, stranded assets, environmental pollution and human rights abuses. This timely and practical report gives clear suggestions for how the Church can mobilise its investments to respond to the climate crisis.’

Read the report

Copies of the report are available to download from the link below.

Get involved

If you would be interested in finding out more about how your Church or faith institution can increase investment in climate solutions, we would be delighted to hear from you! For more information, get in touch with Julia Corcoran, Bright Now Campaign Manager, on julia.corcoran@operationnoah.org.

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