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Catholic Church Commits to Major Fossil Fuel Divestment Before G-7 Meetings

Pope Francis' recent encyclical calls for Catholics across the world to engage in efforts to slow climate change. (Pixabay)
Pope Francis' recent encyclical calls for Catholics across the world to engage in efforts to slow climate change. (Pixabay)
May 22, 2017

DENVER – As world leaders prepare to meet at this week's G-7 summit in Italy, nine Catholic dioceses and religious orders in the U.S. and Europe have committed to divesting their holdings in coal, natural gas and oil companies within the next five years.

Yossi Cadan, an organizer with the group 350.org, says Pope Francis' recent encyclical highlighting the need to act on climate is starting to show real results.

"Because of the sheer size of the Catholic Church and its political influence, that was definitely a milestone for – not just on divestment, divestment is part of that – but on the work on climate change," he states.

President Donald Trump, who will attend the G-7 meetings, has taken steps to block the Clean Power Plan – the primary U.S. strategy for reaching goals set in Paris.

Trump has not made clear whether his administration will uphold America's commitments to reduce carbon emissions, and has called climate change a hoax.

Last week, fossil fuel giant Dutch Shell's CEO told NPR that climate change is real, and that a worldwide transition to clean energy will be necessary to keep global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels.

BP, Chevron and Exxon Mobil also support the Paris agreement.

Cadan says he hopes the divestment moves made by faith leaders and other economic realities will convince U.S. leaders to face facts.

"And therefore it will be unreasonable for the U.S. to continue as business as usual because they won't be able to create or participate or compete in the global economy," he stresses.

According to a report by the University of Oxford, nearly 600 institutions worth more than $3.4 trillion have made divestment commitments.

Cadan adds that 22 percent of those have come from religious institutions including the World Council of Churches and The Lutheran World Federation.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO