Union Theological Seminary and Catholic university both divest from fossil fuels

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There was a time when TreeHugger would report on the installation of 1MW–10MW solar installations. Now, with 53 times more installed solar capacity than just 9 years ago, the bar for what's news worthy in terms of new solar has risen considerably.

With so many universities and communities divesting from fossil fuels, we may be reaching a similar moment with the divestment movement.

Nevertheless, two recent announcements are worthy of note. Business Green reports that The University of Dayton, a Catholic university in Ohio, has just become the wealthiest university yet to divest from all fossil fuels:

The University of Dayton has become the wealthiest university to stop investing in fossil fuels, adding fresh impetus to the divestment movement. The Ohio-based university said on Monday that it will begin divesting coal and fossil fuels from its $670m investment pool and is thought to be the first Catholic university in the US to take the step. Although Stanford University, which wields an $18.7bn endowment fund, pledged to divest in May, this only applied to coal rather than all fossil fuels.

Meanwhile another faith-based institution, the Union Theological Seminary, has also voted to part ways with fossil fuels. As 350.org explains, this is part of a growing mobilization of faith groups:

Union’s decision to divest reflects a growing concern among faith communities about the dangers of climate change. Dozens of churches around the world, from Anglicans in New Zealand to Quakers in the United Kingdom, have divested their holdings. The United Church of Christ of Massachusetts and Minnesota, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Oregon, the Maine Council of Churches, and others have all supported divestment.

As I noted in my piece about the Church of England battling the "Great Demon" of climate change, I am an atheist with decidedly mixed feelings about religion. But religion has typically been a sphere of public life where we can contemplate and discuss ethics, values and responsibility. As such, it's at its best when it engages actively with the real, pressing challenges of our time. Helping to frame climate change and fossil fuel dependence as a moral issue is about as important an expression of that role as I can imagine.

Union Theological Seminary and Catholic university both divest from fossil fuels
Fossil fuel divestment is a moral issue. Religious institutions appear to be taking a stand.

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