In a new Bright Now paper, Christian theologians, scientists and environmentalists consider the question ‘Is it ethical to invest in fossil fuels?’, arguing that the Church must transition away from fossil fuels and towards clean energy as a matter of life and faith.

As the international fossil fuel divestment movement grows, Churches around the world are considering the ethics of their investments in oil, gas and coal. Recognising that the vast majority of the world’s fossil fuel reserves need to be left underground to prevent catastrophic climate change, and that climate change disproportionately affects the poorest and most vulnerable communities, many are electing to sell these investments and instead use their funds to support renewable energies and other clean technologies.

This paper brings together experts from different denominational backgrounds and regions around the world to consider the ethics of the Church’s investments in fossil fuels.

Click here to download the paper from the Bright Now website (PDF)

One contributor, Revd Fletcher Harper of GreenFaith and coordinator of the US faith divestment campaign, comments:

‘The earth is a stunning gift, conveying beauty and evoking in humanity the recognition of something greater than ourselves … but the balance of life on earth is threatened by climate change … because we believe in a just and loving Creator, faith communities must disinvest from fossil fuels and reinvest in a clean energy future.’

The paper also highlights the urgency with which the transition away from fossil fuels is needed and the opportunity for Christian investors to lead in this transition:

‘Christian investors played an important part both in the fight against apartheid and in the rise of fair trade in retail marketing, their discipleship being reflected in their investment decisions. Actions speak loudly and the call now is for the Church to act in a similarly prophetic way with respect to the fossil fuel corporations, whose continued commitment to the extraction and exploitation of reserves flies in the face of scientific evidence on the predicted outcomes of burning more than a fraction of the current known reserve.’

Yesterday, Bright Now sent this paper to the ethical investment advisory bodies for the Church of England and the Methodist Church, which are currently reviewing the ethics of the Church’s investments in fossil fuels and are due to report back later this year. A copy of this paper will be handed in to the Churches tomorrow morning with a Valentine’s Day card, in which Christians share their messages for why they believe the Churches should show their love for creation by divesting from fossil fuels.

A longer paper, in which contributors explore the issue of fossil fuel investments in greater depth, can be downloaded here (PDF).