In a groundbreaking stance against climate change, over 40 different Catholic institutions have announced a collective divestment of oil, coal, and fossil fuels.
Some of the institutions, including the Archdiocese of Cape Town, the Episcopal Conference of Belgium, and the diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, made the pledge on the anniversary of St Francis of Assisi’s death.
While the amount of money to be divested is still unclear, Carnitas, the Catholic church bank and charity participating in the divestment, is worth $5.2 billion (€4.5 billion) alone. Additionally, the number of Catholic groups who have joined the environmentally-driven initiative has broken the previous record for Catholic institutions banding together against climate change, says the Guardian.
Former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said: “I hope we will see more leaders like these 40 Catholic institutions commit, because while this decision makes smart financial sense, acting collectively to deliver a better future for everybody is also our moral imperative.”
The gesture is indicative of a larger stance against climate change, too – earlier this year, Irish Parliament announced the historic Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill, which divested over $8.5 billion from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, making Ireland the first country in the world to divest its sovereign wealth from coal, oil, and gas. The legislation passed in a 90 to 53 majority vote.
“With a climate-skeptic recently inaugurated into the White House, this move by elected representatives in Ireland will send out a powerful message,” said Éamonn Meehan of Trócaire. “The Irish political system is now finally acknowledging what the overwhelming majority of people already know: That to have a fighting chance to combat catastrophic climate change we must phase out fossil fuels and stop the growth of the industry that is driving this crisis.”
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