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Jesuits in Britain are divesting from fossil fuels

  • 26 February 2020

The Jesuits in Britain are divesting from companies whose major income is from the extraction of fossil fuels.  The Jesuits in Britain have equity investments of about £400 million used to finance works and projects here in Britain and around the world, and are the largest Catholic religious order in the UK so far to join the global divestment movement.  The assets will be fully divested by the end of 2020, with more than half of that divestment process already completed.

Jesuit Missions is the international office of the Jesuits in Britain, which is aligning with a global movement of divesting institutions with a combined value of more than $14 trillion in assets under management, up from a starting point of $50 billion just five years ago.

Efa Ravelonantoandro, Programmes Officer of the Centre Sociale Arrupe in Madagascar which is supported by Jesuit Missions, said: “Southern Madagascar is now too hot and we’re seeing more internal migration and with it a rise in crime and a lack of jobs . More frequent and severe flooding across the country has increased diseases among the population.  The Centre Arrupe is directly affected because the medical clinic has been flooded.  We do have lots of rivers in Madagascar, but we are not generating enough renewable energy.  We need more investment in cleaner, renewable energy and a shift away from fossil fuel sources.”

Jesuit Missions is calling on the UK Government to take urgent action to reduce emissions and to encourage other nations to follow its lead, especially in the lead up to the crucial UN climate talks (COP26) taking place in Glasgow this November.

Paul Chitnis, Director of Jesuit Missions, said: “The world must respond to the enormous challenges and opportunities of climate change with far greater urgency. COP 26 in Glasgow can be the right moment.  We see the impact of climate change on communities everywhere and it is the poorest, most marginalised people who suffer most.  That is why the British public expect the UK to meet its climate commitments, including credible net-zero policies with the public and private investment necessary to achieve them.”

Jesuits in Britain recognise that this is just the beginning of a process of examining the wider impact of their investments, whether that be looking to increase positive investments in areas such as sustainable energy or to look deeper at the carbon footprint of companies invested in, or whether companies have links to potential human rights violations.

You might also be interest to read about the Jesuits in Britain’s shareholder resolution asking Barclays to stop financing the climate crisis.

Image credit: Bokani Tshidzu