Climate activists celebrate and urge more church divestment

By agency reporter
October 25, 2014

Christian Climate Action and Divest London threw a party on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral this weekend to celebrate the growing number of churches divesting from fossil fuels around the world, and to call on UK Churches to join them.

Some 49 Churches and faith communities have now shown leadership on climate action by ditching their fossil fuel investments.

These include the World Council of Churches, the Church of Sweden, Quakers in Britain, the Uniting Church in Australia, the United Church of Christ in the US and six Anglican dioceses in New Zealand. In recent weeks, these Churches have been joined by the Anglican dioceses of Perth, Canberra and Melbourne in Australia and the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand.

On the steps of St Paul’s, local Christians, ministers, students and families celebrated these commitments with cakes, songs, party games and a divestment parade. Several UK Churches that have already divested told party-goers why they chose to move their money away from fossil fuels.

Geoff Barnard, a trustee of Brighthelm United Reformed Church in Brighton, which was the first UK Church to divest, said: “It’s clear that the burning of fossil fuels is not sustainable. We divested from fossil fuels because we don’t want our money to support an industry that is destroying the planet.

"We were surprised to be the first Church to take this step and hope others Churches will soon join us by divesting from fossil fuels”.

A week before the celebration, Christian Climate Action visited the headquarters of the Church of England with balloons and a large party invitation to encourage the Church Commissioners – who make investment decisions for the Church of England - to join the party.

Hannah Martin of Christian Climate Action, who delivered the invitation, explained: “The Church has a historic precedent for supporting divestment campaigns, as it did to support the end of Apartheid in South Africa. The fossil fuel divestment movement is growing and the Church needs to be on the right side of history.

"We are challenging the Church because we love it. We want it to be the prophetic voice for those affected by climate change that Jesus called it to be”.

Speaking at the party on Saturday, Danni Paffard of Divest London added: “We are holding a party outside St Paul’s to celebrate the incredible number of Churches and faith communities around the world that have already divested from fossil fuels.

"The faith community has often spoken out on the strong moral case for action on climate change. However, calling for action while investing millions in the fossil fuel industry makes little sense. We would love UK Churches to join the divestment party”.

The Methodist Church in Britain has £58 million, and the Church of England £60 million, invested in major fossil fuel companies (figures from 2012). Both Churches are currently reviewing their investments in the context climate change and are due to report back in 2015.

Christian Climate Action is a collection of Christians who are concerned about the effects of climate change on the future of our planet and its inhabitants. The group has already held an action outside Downing Street where two Catholic grandparents risked arrest praying for David Cameron to take action on climate change.

Operation Noah – an ecumenical Christian charity - is calling for UK Churches to disinvest from fossil fuels through its Bright Now campaign. For more information visit www.brightnow.org.uk

[Ekk/3]

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