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Bright Now: towards fossil free Churches in the UK

Today was an exciting one – the launch of campaign ‘Bright Now: towards fossil free Churches’ calling for Churches in the UK to disinvest from fossil fuels. So, we invited Bright Now campaigner Mark Letcher, vice-chair of Operation Noah, one of our key UK divestment partners, to tell us more.

In the time it takes you to read this blog post, just one company, ExxonMobil, will, according to the Economist, have spent £116,000 on developing new reserves of oil and gas around the world.

Spending on such a massive scale illustrates just how serious the fossil fuel sector is about expanding global reserves of oil, gas and coal. And it comes in the full knowledge that the greenhouse gas pollution currently locked up in the existing reserves of fossil fuels already far exceeds the amount which can be released into the atmosphere without leading to catastrophic alterations to the climate system.

Fatih Birol, the Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency, has said ‘When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius, which would have devastating consequences for the planet.’

Each of the Christian denominations in this country has publicly committed to tackling climate change and preventing catastrophic changes to the climate system on which all life depends. Yet these same institutions hold many millions of pounds worth of investments in oil, gas, and coal companies which are in effect working to tear up international agreements made in 2009 in Copenhagen to limit changes in average global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius.

Clouds and sunlight

We believe that it is simply wrong for Churches to say one thing in their policies and to do the opposite by virtue of their investments. And as we set out in the Ash Wednesday Declaration, we believe that there is a theological imperative for Christians to speak out on this issue, and most importantly to act.

It’s why we are calling on the leaders in all the Christian denominations to demonstrate leadership and vision by doing three things.

Firstly, to withdraw their investments in fossil fuel companies with immediate effect and in so doing demonstrate to those companies that a business model based on catastrophic changes to the climate system is simply unacceptable.

Secondly, to speak out on this issue, taking the lead in the national debate on the ethics of fossil fuel investment.

And thirdly, to put in place the investment policies and criteria needed for national churches to start investing in and proactively supporting clean alternatives to fossil fuels.

At present we are set on a path to the future which necessitates the wilful destruction of God’s creation, planet earth, and the catastrophic, irreversible destruction of the climate system.

The need for an alternative and viable path to the future has never been more acute. It is why we are calling on all Churches to act and implement their own publicly stated policies on climate change through their investments.

And to act today; not next year, or even next month, but Bright Now.

…And in case you are wondering about the the calculation at the beginning of this post: the Economist says Exxon are spending $37 billion per year for next three years. This equals $1173 per second which is £772 per second at today’s conversion rate. Assume 2 mins 30 seconds to read article = £115,800 (rounded up to £116,000).