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Record number of faith groups divest from fossil fuels ahead of COP26

Today 72 faith institutions from six continents, with more than $4.2 billion of combined assets under management, announced they were divesting from fossil fuels.

The move comes five days ahead of the UN's climate conference, COP26, and is the biggest divestment announcement made by faith institutions to date. It means more than 500 faith institutions globally have committed to divest from fossil fuels.

The institutions involved in today's announcement include 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; two Church of England dioceses; 19 churches in the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine; and the Buddhist religious movement Soka Gakkai International – UK. You can see the full list of organisations here.

Urgent and moral imperative

They said there was an 'urgent moral imperative to divest from fossil fuels, given their destructive impacts on climate, biodiversity and human rights'.

They highlighted the International Energy Agency's Net Zero by 2050 Roadmap in May 2021, which said that there could be no new coal, oil and gas developments if the world was to limit global warming to below 1.5°C.

Lorna Gold, chair of the Laudato Si' Movement – and also FaithInvest's Director of Movement Building – said faiths were playing a leadership role in moving their investments out of fossil fuels. 'People of faith are divesting at scale from from coal, oil and gas, calling on the G20 in Rome and world leaders at COP26 to finally conclude that there is no future for fossil fuel finance,' she added.

The Laudato Si' Movement is one of five groups involved in organising the announcement, alongside Operation Noah, World Council of Churches, Green Anglicans and GreenFaith.

Revd Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith: ‘In the midst of a climate emergency, fossil fuel divestment is a moral imperative. More and more religious groups – Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish as well as Christian – must continue to add their names to the growing list of divestment commitments, and must also lead the way by investing in ensuring access to clean energy for absolutely everyone – particularly the 800 million people who lack electricity.’

Learn more

You can learn more at a global divestment webinar entitled COP26, Fossil Fuel Divestment and a Just Transition for All organised by Operation Noah this Thursday October 28 to be held at 12.00 ET (New York), 17.00 BST (London), 18.00 CEST (Rome) and 19.00 (Nairobi).

During the webinar, Bishop Bill Nolan, the Lead Bishop on the Environment for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, will share why 'speaking out is not enough, action is required,” and how “the status quo is not acceptable'.

Find out more and register here.


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