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Outdoor NH Church Calls for Attention to Climate Change and Fossil Fuel Divestment Before G-7

One of the next stops on President Trump's first foreign trip will be the G-7 Summit in Italy, and ahead of his arrival faith groups have been stepping up the call for action on climate change. (Breaking News Wiki).
One of the next stops on President Trump's first foreign trip will be the G-7 Summit in Italy, and ahead of his arrival faith groups have been stepping up the call for action on climate change. (Breaking News Wiki).
May 24, 2017

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

The Rev. Stephan Blackmer, an Episcopal priest at Church of the Woods, which bills itself as a new kind of church on 106 acres of wild woods and wetlands in Canterbury, credited Pope Francis with getting the Catholic Church up to speed with several denominations in New England that have been out in front on divesting from coal and fossil fuels.

"And then there are some churches that are particularly focused on our connection with the natural world and how that affects both the poor and the other creatures that we share this planet with," Blackmer said.

President Trump, who will attend the G-7 meetings, has taken steps to block the Clean Power Plan - the primary U.S. strategy for reaching the climate goals set in Paris. Trump has not made clear whether his administration will uphold America's commitments to reduce carbon emissions, and in the past has called climate change a "hoax."

Yossi Cadan, a senior global-divestment organizer for the group 350.org, said the pope's 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," he said, "that was definitely a milestone for - not just on divestment; divestment is part of that - but on the work on climate change."

Last week, the chief executive of fossil-fuel giant Dutch Shell told NPR that climate change is real, and said a worldwide transition to clean energy will be necessary to keep global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels.

According to a report by the University of Oxford, nearly 600 institutions worth more than $3.4 trillion have made divestment commitments. Cadan said 23 percent of those are from religious institutions. The report is online at gofossilfree.org/commitments.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH