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Dozens of faith institutions pledge to divest from fossil fuels

The global fossil fuel divestment movement has been given a boost today, after three dozen faith institutions from 11 countries announced they would sell their shares in coal, oil, and gas companies.

Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist institutions are among the group that have vowed to distance themselves from fossil fuels, according to an update today from Christian climate charity Operation Noah.

The group includes the Church in Wales – which in April voted to divest its £700m portfolio from fossil fuels – and the Diocese of Bristol and the Diocese of Oxford, which Operation Noah said were the first Church of England dioceses to announce a full divestment from fossil fuels.

Faith investors have long been at the forefront of the global divestment movement and constitute the single-largest source of fossil fuel divestment in the world. Out of the global total of more than 1,300 divestment commitments made to date, 34 per cent have been faith-based organisations, according to a tracker on Go Fossil Free.

“When faith communities divest from fossil fuels, it is a powerful reminder of both the practical and the moral depth of the climate crisis,” said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org and pioneer of the fossil fuel divestment movement. “There is no way to stand up for the most vulnerable people on earth, and to safeguard the rest of creation, unless you’re willing to take on the fossil fuel industry.”

Rt Revd Dr Joanna Penberthy, bishop of St Davids in the Church in Wales, said the Church in Wales would divest from fossil fuels by the end of the year as it worked to reach net zero emissions, “ideally” by the end of this decade.

“Whilst these decisions are a major step forward for us, we recognise that there is still much to be done,” she added. “We hope that the actions of the churches will encourage governments and industry to work towards alternatives which will help to arrest and overcome the disastrous global warming which is affecting us all.”

The faith groups have called on governments around the world to follow their lead and divest from coal, oil, and gas and ensure that Covid-19 recovery spending tackles climate change and delivers a “just and green recovery” from the crisis.

“Fossil fuel investments increase climate change and impacts on those most vulnerable, and also destabilise communities,” said Reverend Ernesto Manuel, Anglican Bishop of Nampula in Mozambique. “We have seen how over 700,000 people in Northern Mozambique have been displaced – many fleeing for their lives in terror from insurgents. Dozens have been beheaded, even children as young as 12.

“This violence only occurs in the areas where gas prospecting is taking place. Locals are not consulted and nor do they benefit, only suffering the impacts of rising prices, pollution and loss of land. We plead with the international community – take your money out of fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy which is decentralised, benefits local people and…

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2021-05-16 17:02:15

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