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#1185 Fossil fuels losing out to ethical investors

By Cathryn Wellner / January 5, 2015
Alberta tar sands; photo by Howl Arts Collective (Flickr: tar sands, Alberta) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Alberta tar sands; photo by Howl Arts Collective (Flickr: tar sands, Alberta) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Industry and governments are reluctant to curb the fossil-fuel cash cow, in spite of a planet having second thoughts about her experiment with human forms of life. So instead of waiting for environmental wreckage to force us to change directions, an increasing number of institutional investors are shifting their funds. Among the latest are the Anglicans of Perth in Western Australia.

At its annual Synod the first weekend in October, the diocese voted to direct its investment manager to develop a plan for both divestment in fossil fuels and investment in renewable energy and report back at the 2015 Synod. 350.org Australia quoted Angilican EcoCare speaker the Reverend Evan Pederick:

“In an ecological age, the ethic of reciprocity extends to the Earth and all its living creatures, and it certainly extends to the poorest of the world’s poor, and to our children and our children’s children. We must love what God loves.”

Others are waking up to a conservation ethic that acknowledges the role of fossil fuels in disrupting the interdependent web of life. About 30 local jurisdictions around the world have opted for divestment. The World Council of Churches, whose members include 300 churches in 150 countries, passed a divestment motion this year and is encouraging members to do the same. The British Medical Association voted in June 2014 to stop investment in fossil fuel companies. Glasgow University has announced plans to divest.

As institutions flex their environmental muscles in ways that affect pools of investor dollars, more money will become available for earth friendlier technologies. And with money escaping their coffers, energy companies will have the incentive to re-write their vision statements and business plans to focus on innovation rather than on business as usual.

We still have a chance to avoid Mother Earth’s shrugging us off as a failed experiment. The divestment movement is an end run around sluggish halls of power. May it thrive and expand.

Thanks to my friend Jenni Woodroffe for the good news about the Anglicans of Perth.

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