Columbans join Divestment Call

16th February 2015 - by Ellen Teague

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People of faith were among hundreds of climate change activists who gathered at London’s City Hall on Saturday to call on Mayor Boris Johnson and the Greater London Authority (GLA) to divest from polluting fossil fuels.

Richard Solly, Catholic Director of the London Mining Network; Sunniva Taylor of Bright Now, the churches’ disinvestment campaign; and Ellen Teague of Columban JPIC joined a ‘Faith’ contingent including Church of England divestment advocates, Quakers, and Jewish Climate Change Action UK.

A ‘Health’ contingent included young doctors, nurses and medical students from London hospitals, carrying the banner, ‘Climate Change is a Health Emergency’. Also there were students representing some of the 60 university campuses across the UK which have urged disinvestment. All spelt out the words ‘ DIVEST LONDON’ in large colourful letters, sang songs about divestment and heard speakers.

The action was part of a series of 500 coordinated events in 67 countries on Global Divestment Day, which called on companies, governments, universities and other public institutions to break their financial ties with the fossil fuel industry and end their investments in one of the major drivers of climate change. As a major financial centre, London is a key hub for fossil fuel investment and London mayor Boris Johnson was urged to cut London’s financial ties with oil, gas and coal companies. The protesters – some of whom dressed in ‘Boris’ masks – want the GLA to pressure the London Pension Fund to divest, and provide fossil free investment options.

Sunniva Taylor of Bright Now pointed out that as well as the London Pension Fund Authority having millions of pounds invested in fossil fuel companies, Westminster politics is heavily influenced by the companies’ lobbying. Their logos are all over London’s art institutions and London-based churches and universities continue to profit from their fossil fuel investments.

However, in just two years, the global divestment movement has grown to include cities, universities, sovereign wealth funds and other organisations who have rejected fossil fuels and chosen instead to channel their investment into renewables and clean energy. The World Council of Churches is on the list. The divestment movement has already been identified by the fossil fuel industry itself as one of the most serious challenges to business as usual. Oxford and Bristol have become the first UK cities to divest and have been joined by Glasgow and Bedfordshire universities.

On Saturday, speakers from Colombia and Bangladesh connected the decisions made in London boardrooms to the devastation of communities and environments in other parts of the world


Is it ethical for the Church to invest in fossil fuels?
Reflections from Christian theologians, scientists and environmentalists

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