Churches have a vital role to play in accelerating the transition to net zero emissions, according to a new report from Christian charity Operation Noah.
It's highlighting the key role of church investments in limiting temperatures to 1.5°C. It comes after the UN estimates that religious institutions manage a combined $3 trillion (£2.5 trillion) of investments globally. Faith institutions invest not only for financial returns, but also to live out their ethics and values.
The report says that some UK faith groups such as the Quakers in Britain, the Church of Ireland, the Diocese of Truro and the Church of England's Church Commissioners for England are now doing that by investing in climate solutions.
The report reiterates the finding that if the world were to redirect more than $570 billion of annual planned oil and gas investments towards renewables, it would finance expansion in line with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement. Earlier this month, the UN warned that the world is currently headed for a catastrophic 2.8°C rise in average temperatures if emissions do not begin to fall rapidly.
Operation Noah's report calls for investment in climate solutions, including renewable energy, energy storage, more energy-efficient buildings, greater investment in public transport and electric vehicles and more sustainable forestry.
The Diocese of Truro recently invested £1.75 million in climate solutions. Rt Rev Hugh Nelson, Bishop of St Germans said :
"The choices we make about finance and investment both describe and shape the future we want to see. If the Church is serious about cherishing creation and getting to net zero, we need to align our finances to that goal. This report is an important and practical encouragement towards that alignment."
Rachel Lampard, former vice-president of the Methodist Conference, has also welcomed the report:
"To avoid climate disaster, we need systemic change - and this means that investors need to be thinking differently. This report makes a vital contribution to this urgent conversation."
Revd Dr Rachel Mash, Environmental Coordinator, Anglican Church of Southern Africa said:
"For the Global South, the climate crisis is not a future threat but a current lived catastrophe. What must Churches in wealthier nations do, recognising that these economies have been built on energy sources that have destabilised the climate? Africa suffers from energy poverty and the only way out is through decentralised renewable energy. New fossil fuel projects will trap Africa in decades of debt, stranded assets, environmental pollution and human rights abuses. This timely and practical report gives clear suggestions for how the Church can mobilise its investments to respond to the climate crisis."