Is it ethical to invest in fossil fuels?

DivestmentJRI has long been interested in climate change. It is now clear that we need to leave most of the remaining reserves of fossil fuels in the ground if we are to avoid dangerous levels of global warming (many scientists say a maximum of two degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial temperature). To do that we need to move away from burning fossil fuels and rapidly move on to renewable sources. The snag is that the fossil fuel companies show little sign of making this move. Many institutions, including churches, hold large investments in fossil fuels. Should we continue to hold these investments when climate change is so damaging to our biodiversity and to human wellbeing? In the last few years there has been increasing interest in the idea that we should encourage divestment (or disinvestment) from fossil fuels. The Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) is due to report to the Church of England on this issue sometime this year.  February 13/14 has been designated as Global Divestment Day.

Operation Noah have been very much leading the campaign for divestment in the churches on the UK. They asked JRI personnel, Martin and Margot Hodson, to contribute to a group of reflections on divestment that they have gathered from Christian theologians, scientists and environmentalists. The other contributors are: Nicky Bull, Revd Dr Susan Durber, Revd Fletcher Harper, Dr John M. Hull, Andy Lester, Bill McKibben, Revd Prof. Michael Northcott, Thea Ormerod, Ellen Teague, and Revd Dr Simon Topping. There are three resources that have arisen from this work:

1) Is it ethical to invest in fossil fuels? How can environmental ethics inform our decision making? by Martin J Hodson and Margot R Hodson on the JRI Blog.

2) A fairly short press release sized document summarising all the contributions: HERE

3) The full document with all of the contributions: Is it ethical for the Church to invest in fossil fuels? Reflections from Christian theologians, scientists and environmentalists.