Divestment Day of Action

People of faith say ‘no’ to fossil fuels in global Week of Action

During a world-wide Divestment Week of Action initiated by the global Catholic Laudato Si’ Movement, Australian people of faith and their organisations were encouraged to consider divesting from fossil fuels as part of their broader responsibility to care for the earth. 

A multi-faith prayer service was held at St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Parramatta on Thursday 9 March, as part of the Week of Action, organised by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC). 

Leaders from several faiths participated in the event, including Most Rev Vincent Long OFM Conv, Ven Bhante Sujato, Rev Meredith Williams, Ahmet Ozturk, Rev Dr Shenouda Mansour and Rabbi George Mordecai.

Held during the Christian season of Lent, the event highlighted that people of faith and faith-based organisations should “repent” of unwittingly allowing their savings to finance coal, oil and gas mining.

Bishop Vincent Long of Parramatta said in his homily, “The time has come for us to act decisively to reduce our carbon footprint, to invest in renewable energy, to divest from fossil fuels, to consume less and waste less ….”

“So ‘now is the time for new courage in abandoning fossil fuels, to accelerate the development of zero- or positive-impact sources of energy,’ Pope Francis said recently. The Vatican Bank itself does not invest in fossil fuels and it is hoped that this example is followed, not just by Catholics but others as well,” he said.

Theravada Buddhist monk, Venerable Bhante Sujato says, “Escalating climate chaos unfolds before us every day, in every nation, in cold and heat, in flood and fire. We fear for ourselves and for our children, yet sometimes we do not even know that our own money is funding the madness. The big banks and financial institutions are too often deeply dependent on fossil fuel investments, profiting while the world burns.

“Divesting from fossil fuels breaks this cycle. When consumers refuse to participate in destructive fossil fuel profiteering, it sends an unmistakable signal,” he said.

Thea Ormerod, president of ARRCC says, “It is not well known that the big banks and funds tend to invest heavily in coal, oil and gas mining and infrastructure, but certain banks, such as Bendigo Bank and Bank Australia, avoid this and instead engage in ‘positive impact investing’,” said Thea Ormerod.

Faith-based organisations have been among the first to embrace fossil fuel divestment, both in Australia and globally. Worldwide, of all organisations to have committed to divestment, those that are faith-based are the largest in number. 

Ms Ormerod said, “It makes sense. Faith-based organisations come out of long revered traditions of seeking to live more ethically. Action to ensure that one’s money is used as a power for good and not for harm should, and often does, flow seamlessly from other religious values. Values such as responsibility to care for the earth, respect for life, compassion and justice.”

It may not be surprising then, that the Islamic Bank of Australia, our country’s first sharia-compliant bank, will soon be opening for business with a plan to avoid investing in fossil fuels. This is over and above what has traditionally been expected by sharia law. 

Many Catholic institutions have divested globally in the last two years, especially in the United Kingdom. Vatican spokesperson, Fr Joshtrom Kureethadam, said: “This is how prophetic institutions can live out our values and help the most vulnerable among us. If we want to achieve peace, and ensure a liveable planet for all, including the future generations, we need to end our dependence on fossil fuels …."


Photos: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1xe9-8ZgOdYpux6xf5taNfNlyYUiPVfOv?usp=sharing 

Credit: Michael O’Farrell

Divestment Day of Action Photos from UK.


Divestment for individuals: https://www.arrcc.org.au/go_fossil_free_individual

Divestment for faith-based organisations: https://www.arrcc.org.au/go_fossil_free_organisation

ARRCC has compiled two lists of faith-based organisations: (a) known Australian FBOs that have divested, and (b) some of the FBOs that have divested globally.

Laudato Si’ Movement powerpoint presentation on Catholic perspectives and implementation guide for Catholic institutions: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/10gJj-W27SJnLkVRU7u7lOLEOle-KXUQzvL9G_fQXdsU/edit?usp=sharing

A recording of a Laudato Si' Movement training video on “how to get your (Catholic) institution to divest” TrainingAdvocacy&Divestment_10012023.mp4  

Laudato Si’ Movement resource: Catholic arguments for fossil fuel divestment: https://laudatosimovement.org/news/catholic-argument-for-fossil-fuel-divestment/