The decision by the World Council of Churches (WCC), an umbrella group representing 345 churches or more than half a billion Christians worldwide, is seen as a major boost to the so-called “divestment” campaign encouraging pension funds to no longer invest in fossil fuels.
The WCC said it decided to no longer fund oil, gas, or coal at its central committee meeting in Geneva, and urged that its members, including the 25 million-member Church of England, do the same.
The Finance Policy Committee report says “the committee discussed the ethical investment criteria, and considered that the list of sectors in which the WCC does not invest should be extended to include fossil fuels.”
The WCC’s member churches will not be forced to divest themselves, but advocates say the announcement represents broad support among Christians for action to fight climate change.
The Church of England, for example, have previously announced that they were considering redirecting its $9 billion in investments in an effort to battle climate change.
This WCC decision represents the general trend among religious groups to move investment, usually large sums, away from harmful practices, highlighting the issue not only as ethical but as well spiritual.
Church groups and university endowment funds have been the initial focus of the divestment campaign, with Stanford University in California recently agreeing to dump fossil fuel investments.
However, major banks and financial institutions are also reviewing their portfolios. Some leading funds managers have dumped fossil fuels from their “eithical” portfolios, while banks such as Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Barclays and others have walked away from large projects such as the Abbot Point coal loader.
Environmental campaigner Bill McKibben of 350.org, said that, “the World Council of Churches reminds us that morality demands thinking as much about the future as about ourselves–and that there’s no threat to the future greater than the unchecked burning of fossil fuels.”
“This is a remarkable moment for the 590 million Christians in its member denominations: a huge percentage of humanity says today ‘this far and no further’.”