(Source: Novena/Global Catholic Climate Movement)
As the climate crisis rages around the world, too many of the world’s governments continue to cling to energy sources of the past.
But faith institutions around the world aren’t waiting for change. They’re committing to a brighter and cleaner future.
On Monday, 47 faith institutions from 21 countries announced their commitment to divest from fossil fuels. The Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish institutions make up the largest joint divestment from fossil fuels.
Together, they’re acting out their values and showing the world once more that faith institutions are committed to a safer future powered by the clean energy economy.
Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, said, “The economic power of faiths, turned to responsible investments and the green economy, can be a major driver of positive change, and an inspiration to others, as we rebuild better.”
Pressure from faith investors and others has already exposed the inherent weakness of the fossil fuel industry, with Royal Dutch Shell now citing divestment as a material risk to its business.
Catholic institutions make up 42 of the 47 commitments in Monday’s announcement.
The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), Caritas Asia, and the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests are included. The full list of participating institutions is here.
“We encourage others also to join us in taking concrete steps to solve the climate crisis,” Fr. Manuel Enrique Barrios Prieto, COMECE Secretary-General, said. “Commitments to the Paris climate agreement is important, and the European Green Deal is a way of doing so. Solving the climate crisis protects the human family from the dangers of a warming world, and decisive action is needed now more than ever.”
Pope Francis recently called on all Catholic organizations to divest from companies that “do not meet the parameters of integral ecology” and to invest in organizations that prioritize “sustainability, social justice, and the promotion of the common good.”
His Holiness has convened an “Economy of Francesco” conference this week that will further explore innovative ways Catholics are developing a sustainable economy.
In June, the Vatican encouraged all Catholics to divest from fossil fuels as part of its first operational guidance on ecology.
These guidelines, which were jointly issued by all dicasteries of the Vatican, encouraged Catholics to avoid investing in companies that “harm human or social ecology (for example, through abortion or the arms trade), or environmental ecology (for example, through the use of fossil fuels).”
Catholics’ commitment to clean energy is part of the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Fifty years ago this month, Pope Paul VI said that “everything is bound up together” in the “living design of the Creator,” and warned that we risked “provoking a veritable ecological catastrophe.”
In his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis reminded us that “everything is connected,” in “one complex crisis which is both social and environmental,” and warned that “we still lack the culture needed to confront this crisis.”