With the World Council of Churches decision to divest from fossil fuels, a huge percentage of humanity is closing the door on the past.
The organization – a fellowship of 300 churches – represents some 590 million people in 150 countries, and is calling on its members and other religious institutions to join them. In the past, they took a stance against nuclear energy.
"The general ethical guidelines for investment already include concern for a sustainable environment, for future generations and CO2 footprint. Adding fossil fuels to the list of sectors where we do not invest serves to strengthen the governing body’s commitment on climate change as expressed in various sessions of the Central Committee," says Guillermo Kerber, who coordinates their work on care for creation and climate justice.
Divestment is catching on among religious leaders across the world. Other recent divestment decisions are: Unitarian Universalist General Assembly (US), United Church of Christ (US), University of Dayton (Ohio) – the first Catholic institution to divest – Union Theological Seminary (New York City), the Church of Sweden and Quakers (UK). Regional Lutheran, Quaker, and Episcopal denominations have joined the effort in the US, and the Anglican Church is leading the way in New Zealand and Australia, with many local dioceses and the entire Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia committing to divestment.
The Vatican held a 5-day summit, Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature: Our Responsibility.
"The World Council of Churches may be the most important commitment we’ve received yet," says Tim Ratcliffe, 350.org’s European Divestment Coordinator. "It opens the doors for churchgoers around the world to encourage their institutions to live up to their values and divest from companies that are destroying the planet and our future."
This month, the British Medical Association also joined the chorus of divestment, the first health organization to do so.
In September, the World Council will join religious and spiritual leaders from around the world at the Religions for the Earth conference in New York City: