World Council of Churches calls for climate-responsible finance

New finance campaign launched in May 2022 by the WCC jointly with the Muslim Council of Elders and the New York Board of Rabbis in collaboration with UNEP.

An exciting new initiative, Climate-Responsible Finance: A Moral Imperative towards Children was launched in May 2022 by the World Council of Churches. Created jointly with the Muslim Council of Elders and the New York Board of Rabbis in collaboration with UNEP, the campaign aims to ensure that our planet remains habitable not only for our children, but for future generations. They are calling on their members, partners, organisations and indeed every citizen who cares about children, to endorse the campaign.


"Fossil fuel financing from the world’s 60 largest banks has reached USD $4.6 trillion in the six years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, with $742 billion in fossil fuel financing in 2021 alone." - World Council of Churches

This campaign is based on findings documented by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which outlined the importance of divestment from fossil fuels. Research shows that average greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest ever in 2019. They warn that unless immediate action is taken to reduce emissions significantly across all sectors, that the global temperature increase will go beyond the critical ceiling of 1.5 degrees centigrade.


In 2022, we are already seeing unprecedented climate events around the world, such as catastrophic flooding, with repeated flooding in Australia and one-third of Pakistan under water. There are heatwaves and droughts hitting the headlines in the USA (California), China and Somalia. These events have already driven millions of people from their homes and have pushed Somalia to the brink of famine.


The campaign explains that there is a way to tackle this now and prevent matters from getting worse, and that is to divest from fossil fuels. The campaign quotes United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, who is calling for massive divestment by financial services providers: 'This year, all private financiers need to stop funding the entire coal sector, from mining to power generation, and actively shift finance to renewables.'


They are asking all financial service providers in their appeal 'to ensure their activities are promoting a just transition to a sustainable future and not contributing to the climate crisis and harming vulnerable populations, children and future generations of life on earth'.


"This year, all private financiers need to stop funding the entire coal sector, from mining to power generation, and actively shift finance to renewables." -– United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres

Individuals and organisations can take part


This is a hugely practical campaign, which encourages everyone to ensure that their insurance funds, savings or other investments are not being used to finance the fossil fuel industry, and to move their investments into climate-responsible finance or the green economy. Whether you are an individual worried that your personal pension might be contributing to environmental degradation, or an organisation wanting to ensure that your assets are not financing the climate catastrophe, this campaign has something that you can do.


"We expect all financial service providers working for our organisations to ensure their activities are promoting a just transition to a sustainable future and not contributing to the climate crisis and harming vulnerable populations, children and future generations of life on earth." - World Council of Churches

The campaign is also collecting case studies to share at events such as the WCC Assembly later this year, and they are actively encouraging individuals and groups to get in touch with them.


How to take part

Taking part is simple. Individuals and organisations are invited to read the appeal to international financial services providers, and to use this template to write to their own banks, pension funds and insurance companies, asking them to commit to ending support for new fossil fuel projects, to phase out from existing projects and to report on how they are moving towards funding the green economy.


"[We need to] ensure that our banks and pension funds are not financing the fossil fuel industry with our assets." -– Rev Prof Dr Ioan Sauca, World Council of Churches

If you would like to endorse the campaign, whether as an individual citizen or on behalf of an organisation, they have asked that you email them at churchesforchildren@wcc-coe.org to let them know.


The campaign also includes useful resources to help asset owners, banks and insurers to align with the Paris Accords:

● for asset owners: https://www.unepfi.org/net-zero-alliance/

● for banks: https://www.unepfi.org/net-zero-banking/

● for insurers: https://www.unepfi.org/net-zero-insurance/


For more information about the initiative, and to find the full range of resources and templates, visit the World Council of Churches website or email them at churchesforchildren@wcc-coe.org


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