Episcopal Church Divests From Fossil Fuels on Moral Grounds
This week, leaders of the Episcopal church voted to rid their church holdings of fossil fuels, and reinvest in clean energy. This makes them the third major religious denomination in the U.S. to join the divestment movement – and the first to do so in response to Pope Francis’ recent climate encyclical. As this Guardian article reports, church leaders see climate change as a threat to human life, and feel taking action is a moral responsibility.
Activism among churches is growing on the climate issue, many of whom now view it in a different light thanks to the influence of the Pope. One leader of the Episcopal campaign said he felt the Pope’s message was a key factor in the passage of the divestment measure. Church leaders hope parishes and dioceses will follow suit with their own fossil-fuel divestments.
Health and higher education leaders have been urging divestment within their own sectors, also on moral grounds – and momentum continues to build there as well. For example, Indiana’s Ball State University this week voted to shift towards socially responsible investments. This is exactly the type of leadership the climate movement needs. If you want to help inspire climate leadership in your sector, join us at MomentUs.org.
Suzanne Goldenberg, contributor to the Guardian
The leadership of the Episcopal church has voted to withdraw from fossil fuel holdings as a means of fighting climate change, delivering an important symbolic victory to environmental campaigners.
Two weeks after the pope’s pastoral letter on the environment, the divestment decision by a ma-jor US Protestant denomination underscored that climate change is increasingly seen by religious leaders as a deeply moral issue.
The measure, adopted by the governing body at a meeting in Salt Lake City, commits the church to quit fossil fuels and re-invest in clean energy.
It covers only a small portion of church holdings, but encourages individual parishes and dioces-es to begin moving funds in their control away from coal, oil and gas.
“The vote says that this is a moral issue and that we really have to think about where we are put-ting our money,” said Betsy Blake Bennett, archdeacon in the Episcopal diocese of Nebraska, who supported divestment.
Image credit: Jim Urquhart/Reuters