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UK churches support largest-ever joint divestment from fossil fuels

A further 47 faith institutions from 21 different countries have jointly announced that they will get rid of stocks, bonds and investment funds related to fossil fuels.

Ten of the participating institutions are from the UK and include both Anglican and Methodist churches.

The announcement was made on the fifth anniversary of the Paris agreement on climate change, which aims to strengthen the response to the threat of global warming.

The recent economic fallout from coronavirus has shifted the focus away from climate change and towards financial support for energy companies.

Energy ministers from the G20, a group representing the world’s largest economies, promised at the end of September to “encourage dialogue to help mobilise public and private investment in various energy sectors”.

However, there was no mention of the removal of fossil fuel subsidies - a pledge that the group has repeatedly made since 2009. The G20 Presidency is currently held by Saudi Arabia.

Of the 1,248 institutions who have committed to divest from fossil fuels, faith-based organisations represent the largest share at 32 per cent, more than twice the next largest group.

The estimated value of institutions divesting from fossil fuel companies was $14.5 trillion at the time of writing.

Both national and international leaders have welcomed the announcement. Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, said: “The economic power of faiths, turned to responsible investments and the green economy, can be a major driver of positive change, and an inspiration to others, as we rebuild better.”

Earlier this year, the Vatican gave operational guidance for the first time on ecology and encouraged Catholics across the world to divest from fossil fuels.

Pope Francis has also convened the “Economy of Francisco”, an online event running from 19th -21st November that brings together young economists and entrepreneurs to explore innovative ways to developing a sustainable economy.

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