BERLIN (SE): The Global Catholic Climate Movement announced on October 3 that a coalition of 40 Catholic institutions has decided to pull out its collective investments in fossil fuel-related industries estimated to be worth over $US5 trillion ($38.75 trillion) and place it in more environmentally friendly activities.
The finance and stock market news site, CNBC, reported that one of the major players in the coalition, the Bank of the Church and Caritas in Germany, has a balance sheet worth around US$5.3 billion ($41.08 billion) and the other groups, including the Episcopal Conference of Belgium, as well as some from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Australia, South Africa and Italy make up the remainder of the investment.
The Bank of the Church and Caritas was one of the first Catholic financial organisations to begin getting out of fossil fuels. It has severed links with coal, tar sands, crude and oil shale.
“As a Catholic Church bank, we feel strongly responsible to participate in tackling the issue of climate change,” Tommy Piemonte, the sustainability research officer at the bank was reported by CNBC as saying.
Piemonte added that integrity of creation and climate protection is an issue the bank has been committed to from long before Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical, Praise Be: On care for our common home (Laudato Si').
The announcement was welcomed by Christiana Figueres, the former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“I hope we’ll 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,” she said.
The Catholic News Service reported Tomas Insua, the director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, as saying, “What is clear is that momentum against fossil fuel divestment is growing a lot. This is a very concrete sign of the voice of the Catholic community.”
The global community organised the move in the wake of a divestment conference held in Rome earlier this year.
“These 40 institutions are taking a moral stand. They are sending a very clear message to governments and the fossil fuel industry that their business model is not aligned with a healthy climate and a sustainable society,” Insua said in praising ther move.
Some of the other groups involved in the move, which is expected to take several years to complete, are the Argentine Network of Environment and Development; Australian Jesuit Province; School Sisters of Notre Dame; and the Union of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ireland.
In addition, there are the Italian dioceses of Assisi-Nocera, Umbra-Gualdo, Tadino, Caserta and Gubbio; Sierra Leone Young Christian Student Movement; Sacro Convento, the Franciscan Fiary that houses the remains of St. Francis; Catholic Action for Animals in the United Kingdom and the Centre for Action and Contemplation in New Mexico.