The World Council of Churches divests from fossil fuels

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CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 Michael Libbe

Goodness me, the fossil fuel divestment movement is growing fast.

I was impressed a few weeks ago when a top Catholic university and Union Theological Seminary both voted to divest from fossil fuels. Now we hear via The Guardian that The World Council of Churches—an organization that represents 345 member churches, including the Church of England, is also pulling its money from dirty fossil fuels.

Here's how Bill McKibben welcomed the move:

"The World Council of Churches reminds us that morality demands thinking as much about the future as about ourselves – and that there's no threat to the future greater than the unchecked burning of fossil fuels. This is a remarkable moment for the 590 million Christians in its member denominations: a huge percentage of humanity says today 'this far and no further'."

As The Guardian notes, research suggests fossil fuel divestment has grown more rapidly than both the tobacco and apartheid divestment movements that are—to some degree—providing a model for campaigners. And as I have argued many times before, part of the reason for such growth may be as much economic as it is moral. With many experts concerned about a "carbon bubble", large institutions have plenty of motivation to be examining where they put their money.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is the latest—perhaps surprising—voice to add fuel to this fire. As the International Business Editor for Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper, he is hardly the voice of lefty treehuggerdom. He is convinced, however, that the carbon bubble is real and looming, and may pose a bigger threat than subprime mortgages and all those other shenanigans that got us in so much trouble recently:

Brokers Sanford Bernstein say we are entering an era of "global energy deflation" where gains in solar technology must relentlessly erode the viability of the fossil nexus, since it goes only in one direction. Deep sea drilling will become pointless. We can leave the Arctic alone. Once the crossover point is reached - and photovoltaic energy already competes with oil, diesel and liquefied natural gas in much of Asia without subsidies - it must surely turn into a stampede. My guess is that the world energy landscape will already look radically different in the early 2020s.

In case we are under any illusion regarding what Mr. Evans-Pritchard is getting at, here's how he put the matter on twitter. Maybe the World Council of Churches is getting some sound advice from on high.

Tags: Activism | Carbon Emissions | Corporate Responsibility | Economics


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