After the Catholic Diocese of Northampton announced its plans to divest itself from all fossil fuels, it is estimated that half of all Catholic parishes in England and Wales have at least begun to cut their dependence on unclean energy. In addition, the Anglican dioceses of Canterbury, Coventry and Ely have each ended their investments in fossil fuels.
The Northampton Diocese’s statement noted that it will no longer seek direct investment in any company “which generates more than 10% of its revenue from fossil fuel production.” This prohibition will stand regardless of the company’s sector or services.
According to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the announcement came alongside 31 faith organizations from around the Western world. With these groups hailing from the US, Canada, Italy, Australia, France, and the UK, the effort has been a show of international unity among Catholics. The bishops even set up a spreadsheet that recorded each of the individual parishes and dioceses that joined in the vow.
Archbishop Giovanni Ricchiuti, president of Pax Christi, Italy, one of the divesting Catholic charities, hailed the 31 faith organizations for following the guidance of Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’. He commented:
“Each of us must do our part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources.” The prelate added, “But it is also necessary to urge policymakers to quickly develop policies that will permanently replace energy production from extractive fossil [fuel] sources that, as we know, damage the climate of our planet and exploit entire populations.”
A report from NCR notes that while 10 Catholic dioceses have divested, another 10 have maintained their holdings in fossil fuels. In Scotland, the bishops vowed to divest all eight Scottish dioceses of fossil fuels in 2021. Meanwhile the Church of England has seen 23 of its dioceses – more than half – divest of fossil fuel investments, as of April 3. Of the remaining 19 Anglican dioceses, 13 do not have investments in fossil fuels and have further pledged to refrain from seeking them in the future.