FROM AUSTRALIA TO ZAMBIA, FAITH INSITUTIONS ARE DIVESTING FROM FOSSIL FUELS
On Tuesday, five days before the United Nations 26th Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, faith institutions around the world united for the largest-ever joint divestment announcement.
In total, 72 faith institutions from six continents with more than $4.2 billion of combined assets under management announced their commitment to divest from fossil fuels.
The institutions’ prophetic actions follow the recent call from Pope Francis and other faith leaders to global governments to address the “unprecedented ecological crisis” ahead of COP26.
The announcement comes from faith institutions in Australia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Nepal, Peru, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Zambia.
Participating institutions include the Church of England Dioceses of Truro and Sodor and Man, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland; the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church in the UK; the Presbyterian Church of Wales; the Presbyterian Church in Ireland; Catholic universities in the United States and the UK; the Sisters of Charity of Australia; Caritas Nepal; 15 Catholic dioceses in England, Scotland and Ireland; 19 churches in the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine; and the Buddhist religious movement Soka Gakkai International – UK.
Last month, more than 20 Southern African Anglican bishops including the Archbishop of Cape Town, the three bishops of Mozambique and the Bishop of Namibia called for an immediate halt to gas and oil exploration in Africa. They said that ‘a new era of economic colonialism by fossil fuel companies is well underway’ and that ‘Africa’s natural habitats are being destroyed at an alarming rate through the extraction of oil and gas’.
Rt Revd Hugh Nelson, Bishop of St Germans in the Church of England Diocese of Truro, said: ‘We are proud to be able to say we no longer invest in companies whose principal business involves the extraction, production or refining of coal, gas and oil. We know there is still a long way to go and we will be looking very closely at all our investments to try and divest wherever we find an indirect link to extraction but we are pleased to have taken this first, big step.’
Bishop Luke Pato of Namibia said: ‘We are guardians of the land for the generations to come. Namibia is the driest country south of the Sahara and our ground water is the heritage we leave for our children and grandchildren. We cannot risk drilling operations that pollute precious water sources, abuse indigneous rights and threaten the heritage site of the Okavango Delta.’
Vanessa Nakate, Ugandan climate justice activist, said: ‘Because of the existing human activities against the earth, the land mourns. The suffering is set upon the people and the planet. When nature is destroyed, we destroy ourselves. We all have a responsibility towards creation, to protect and conserve for the present and future generations.’
Revd Dr Rachel Mash, Environmental Coordinator of Green Anglicans, said: ‘Faced with environmental devastation, pollution of precious water sources and abuse of land rights caused by fossil fuel companies, it is easy for those on the frontline of climate change to feel overwhelmed by the power of these corporations. When we hear that faith communities are taking their money out of these companies, it rekindles hope that we are not alone.’
Ready for your institution to join them? Hear from the institutions that divested and how they did it during a special COP26-themed conversation on Thursday.
COP26, Fossil Fuel Divestment and a Just Transition for All
Note: The conversation will be in English with live translations in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and French.