World Council of Churches divests from fossil fuels

The World Council of Churches (WCC), a group of churches that represents over half a billion Christians in more than 150 countries, has decided to pull its investments from fossil fuel companies.

The report of the WCC’s Finance Committee says that: “The committee discussed the ethical investment criteria, and considered that the list of sectors in which the WCC does not invest should be extended to include fossil fuels”. One reason for the decision was that some member churches in different parts of the world have recently decided to divest from fossil fuel companies, explained Guillermo Kerber, who coordinates the WCC’s work on climate justice.

Climate campaigners are celebrating the decision as a major victory for the fossil fuel divestment movement. Tim Ratcliffe, European Divestment Coordinator at the climate campaign group said in a written statement: “The World Council of Churches may be the most important commitment we’ve received yet. It opens the doors for churchgoers around the world to encourage their institutions to live up to their values and divest from companies that are destroying the planet and our future.”

Bill McKibben, founder of, explained the importance of the endorsement: “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’.”

One of the most powerful advocates for fossil fuel divestment has been Nobel Peace-Prize winner and former South African Anglican Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, who recently called for an “anti-apartheid style boycott of the fossil fuel industry” in an article in the Guardian in April this year.

His call to action was echoed in May by the UN’s climate chief, Christiana Figueres, when she gave a speech to religious leaders at St. Paul’s cathedral in London, urging them to pull their investments out of fossil fuel companies.


Photo credit: Holly Hayes/Creative Commons

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