Dozens of faith groups announce fossil fuel divestment ahead of COP26

(Photo: Unsplash/Thomas Millot)

UK and Irish Churches are among 72 faith institutions to have announced they are divesting from fossil fuels. 

They include the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland, the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church of Wales, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Church of England Dioceses of Truro and Sodor & Man, and 15 Catholic dioceses across the UK and Ireland.

Dr David Bruce, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, said investment policies "should be informed by the biblical understanding of creation that leads to a commitment to God's world and to our global neighbours".

The announcement coincides with UN climate conference COP26 getting underway in Glasgow on Sunday with world leaders in attendance.

It has been dubbed a 'make-or-break' summit on climate change.

Rev Evan Morgan, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Wales, said it was time for action.

"We realise time is running out and to safeguard the planet and fulfil our role as stewards of God's creation, the Church amongst other organisations must act," he said.

"The time for words, however well meaning, is over and actions now are the order of the day and to be proactive in our response to the challenges of the climate crisis."

The faith institutions joining together in the announcement have more than $4.2bn of combined assets under management across the globe.

Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham Bernard Longley said the joint stand by faith communities gave him "great hope for the future".

"Our commitment to divestment in fossil fuels is a response both to the cry of the earth and of the poor, taking us one step further towards its consolation," he said. 

David Palmer, Chief Executive Officer of the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church, said: "The pace of change across the oil and gas sector has been inadequate and falls well below the targets set at COP21 in Paris.

"We hope that COP26 will refresh these targets and we look forward to joining other faith groups in Glasgow next month in calling for immediate action to address the climate emergency."