Karl Mathiesen Guardian/UK 31 March 2015
Seventeen bishops and archbishops tell Anglican church investments in fossil fuel companies incompatible with a just and sustainable future .The bishops represent the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, a body that promotes environmental concerns within the 85 million-strong Anglican communion.
A spokeswoman for the church’s commissioners said: “We are committed to completing the review of our climate change policy before the General Synod in July. “We believe there are many ways of practicing ethical investment including active engagement with companies and policy makers, as demonstrated in our activist resolutions to Shell and BP to be debated at their forthcoming AGMs.”
The World Council of Churches, of which the Church of England is a member, has already ruled out new fossil fuel investments and former Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for a divestment campaign on fossil fuels to mirror the anti-apartheid movement. “People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change,” he said.
The Guardian’s Keep it in the ground campaign has called for large philanthropic institutions to divest, highlighting the incongruity of working to fund major development and health research projects while funding companies that are exploring for new sources of carbon. Scientists estimate that more than two thirds of known fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned without exceeding the threshold for dangerous climate change impacts.
The man who has Tutu’s former job as Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Reverend Dr Thabo Makgoba, hosted the group in February in South Africa. He said the group accepted the science of climate change and identified climate action as a spiritual imperative for all Anglicans.
“The problem is spiritual as well as economic, scientific and political. We have been complicit in a theology of domination. While God committed the care of creation to us, we have been careless – but not hopeless,” he said. “In the words of St Theresa of Avila, we are God’s hands and feet on earth – now is the time for us, rooted in prayer, to step up and take action on the climate crisis.”
The declaration also calls on churches to take a variety of other actions to combat climate change including adopting energy saving measures and encouraging biodiversity on church property. They also want to see more climate change education done by churches and for members to undertake a day of fasting for climate justice on the first day of each month.
Africa’s first woman bishop, the Right Reverend Ellinah Wamukoya, also a member of the ACEN, said the fact the burden of climate change would fall disproportionately on the world’s women was morally insupportable. “Women are more often dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods, so the contribution of women is essential in decisions around climate change. Our communities must be equal, as in the Eucharist,” she said.
Other Christian denominations have already voted to shed their fossil fuel assets. The United Methodists have committed to dump coal. The Unitarians and United Church of Christ are also reportedly divesting. [Abbrev.]