The World Council of Churches (WCC), United Nations Environment Programme, Muslim Council of Elders, and NY Board of Rabbis have signed a landmark joint appeal, “Climate-Responsible Finance – A moral imperative and responsibility to all children and the living world“.
It has been acknowledged the need to align financial investments with environmentally and socially responsible standards, ensuring greater accountability and transparency, and moving away from investments in fossil fuels and toward investments in renewable energy and restorative agriculture.
“Let us come together and influence how money is invested in response to the existential threat of climate change,” said WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca in launching the appeal. “Family money, church money, a company’s money, a nation’s money. We need everyone to take this step for a sustainable future for our children.”
The findings of the latest IPCC report released on 04 April 2022 dramatize the critical urgency of this challenge. Therefore, the joint appeal calls upon financial service providers to take urgent and effective action to transition out of fossil fuel financing and to invest in renewable energies and research for climate solutions.
“Accordingly we, leaders of the undersigned organisations, affirm our commitment to engaging with the financial institutions through which we bank, invest, and seek insurance coverage, to ensure that our financial dealings are aligned with the Paris Agreement objective of limiting global warming to 1.5° C,” the appeal reads. “We will review our pension, banking, insurance and other financial service arrangements to ensure evidence-based accountability in this regard, as a moral imperative and responsibility to all children and the living world."
The appeal calls upon financial service providers to require "oil and gas companies to stop all new development or expansion projects…including especially all such projects in the Arctic region,” and to join “the UN-convened Net Zero Asset Owner, Banking and/or Insurance Alliances, depending on the type of financial institution concerned, if they are not yet part of them.”
The text concludes by inviting “all members of our constituencies and all our partners to do likewise, so that together we may move beyond words to effective action, and be the change for which we call."
UN secretary-general António Guterres welcomed the initiative. “For too long, the financial services sector has enabled the world’s fossil fuel addiction,” he said. “It is now time for financial service providers to accelerate the shift to renewables. They have the power – and the responsibility,” said Guterres. “The scientific and moral imperative is clear: there must be no new investment in fossil fuel expansion, including production, infrastructure and exploration.”
Guterres added: “This year, all private financiers need to stop funding the entire coal sector, from mining to power generation, and actively shift finance to renewables. People, communities and organizations of faith have the influence needed to effect this transition. I welcome this important faith-based initiative.”
All partners, organisations and citizens who care about children are invited to endorse the statement by writing to churchesforchildren[at]wcc-coe.org and to raise awareness about the resources shared in it. A webinar will be held on 20 May at 15.00 CEST to provide capacity building around the actions proposed in the statement.