Several church groups and individual churches have decided to stop investing in fossil fuels, including Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist groups.
Thirty-six faith institutions from eleven countries have announced their divestment from fossil fuels. The group includes the Church in Wales, with more than £700 million of assets under management, which voted to divest from fossil fuels in April. It also includes the Diocese of Bristol and the Diocese of Oxford, the first Church of England dioceses to announce their divestment from fossil fuels, as well as the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Catholic Diocese of Hallam and the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.
Fossil fuels cause pollution by releasing carbon dioxide, which leads to heat being trapped in the earth's atmosphere. Many churches invest their assets in companies but several are deciding to remove their investment from companies that contribute to climate change.
The divestment announcement takes place as the UK prepares to host the G7 Summit in June and the UN climate summit (COP26) in Glasgow in November.
The Methodist Church announced it had divested its remaining fossil fuel holdings at the end of April, including £21 million of shares in Royal Dutch Shell, citing Shell's 'inadequate' climate plans. The Church of Scotland recently announced that it had also sold its remaining shares in oil and gas companies too.
The Catholic Diocese of Hallam and six Catholic dioceses in Ireland and several religious orders are announcing their divestment commitments.
Out of the global total of over 1,300 divestment commitments made to date, more than 450 are from faith institutions.
Rt Revd Dr Joanna Penberthy, Bishop of St Davids in the Church in Wales, said: "Every part of the world is now feeling the effects of climate change...Whilst these decisions are a major step forward for us, we recognise that there is still much to be done, and 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."
Revd Dr Dave Gregory, convenor of the Baptist Union's Environmental Network and former Baptist Union President, who is a former meteorologist at the Met Office, said: "It was inspiring to hear so many voices from across the generations and different parts of the Baptist Together family recognising the importance of the decision to divest from fossil fuels, and agreeing that this was the way we need to walk with Jesus together in the face of the climate and environmental crisis which for many in our world is an immediate climate emergency."