Jesuits ditch fossil fuel investments

The Jesuits in Britain will ditch fossil fuel companies from its $500 million equity portfolio by the end of the year.

It is the largest Catholic religious order in the UK so far to join the global divestment movement.

The fossil fuel divestment is just part of an in-depth examination of the orders investments which is also focusing on issues such as carbon footprint and human rights violations.

“Climate change is the most pressing challenge the world faces as climate disasters wreak more and more destruction, hitting poorer countries the hardest – despite them having done the least to cause them,” says Damian Howard SJ, the Provincial Superior of the British Jesuits.

“The decision to divest is principally a response to the clear moral imperative of acting to safeguard our planet for future generations at a time when scientific evidence is mounting that we are facing a grave climate emergency.

“What happens to the climate and the environment will have implications for us all.”

“That’s why we need to act together to protect the conditions for human life. I am glad that the Jesuits can contribute to that joint effort.”

“All our institutions need to respond to this ecological crisis and take bold action to reduce energy use and switch to renewable sources. Large-scale investors should be doing everything possible to help avert the severe consequences that could result if adequate measures are not taken.”

Corporate failure to respond quickly to the threat of climate change is behind the Jesuit’s decision to divest itself from its fossil fuel portfolio.

The Jesuits, which has 400 million pounds invested with three money managers to finance its work, said it is more than halfway through the process of selling out of its holdings in oil majors BP, Shell (L:RDSa) and Total (PA:TOTF).

“Our trustees took the decision to completely divest from oil, gas and coal-producing companies because they felt these companies were not making enough progress towards better solutions,” said Stephen Power.

Power is a Brother in the Society of Jesus, which manages the group’s ethical investing strategy.

The Jesuits had considered outright divestment for a decade, but until now had opted only to restrict investment in companies with large holdings in thermal coal or those using Canadian tar sands.

With diversified energy companies BP and Shell, the Jesuits have been focusing on encouraging the companies to follow a “greener and more future-focused policy”.

“However, the severity of the climate emergency has made it crystal clear that action is needed more than words if climate action is to be effective,” Power

The order’s main equity investment managers are AXA Framlington Investment Management, CCLA and Cazenove Capital Management.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , ,