WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Laudato Si’ Movement was one of a number of faith-based organizations demanding that investment firms and asset managers divest from corporations that don’t take specific steps to stop fossil-fuel production and prevent deforestation.
The organization also pressed these firms and asset managers to sign on to a pledge to do their share to limit the rise in world temperatures.
The demands, issued Feb. 24 under the name “Climate Finance Moral Standards for Asset Managers,” also seek a “rapid and just” transition to a sustainable future, access to affordable and accessible renewable energy for all, and respect for the rights of Indigenous people.
The coalition is led by the World Council of Churches and GreenFaith. Other endorsers included the Faith for the Climate Network, Green Anglicans, Hindus for Human Rights, the Islamic Society of North America, Operation Noah and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.
Organizers expect more religious groups to sign on. They estimate the cumulative value of investment assets held by faith-based organizations at $40 trillion.
The statement said it expects asset managers to “adopt, implement and ensure compliance” with the standards it lays out, including that they “exclude across all investments any assets that include production of fossil fuels, deforestation-causing commodity production, and companies with systemic violations of Indigenous and human rights.”
Asset managers also must exclude investment in “all companies responsible for production and expansion of fossil fuels, as named on the Global Coal Exit List and the Global Oil & Gas Exit List,” both of which were developed by the German environmental organization Urgewald, as well as firms “that refuse to implement comprehensive policies for zero deforestation.”
The asset managers, the statement said, must also “exclude companies with systematic violations of human rights or that refuse to implement comprehensive policies for upholding Indigenous rights, as defined by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
They also should “demand real decarbonization, without use of offsets,” and “not just disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions,” the statement said.
It added asset managers should “make no new investments in heavily emitting companies that do not have credible short- and medium-term decarbonization or anti-deforestation plans consistent with the internationally agreed-upon goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade.”
Asset managers, the statement continued, should “divest from such companies within three years if they have not developed such plans.”
Before the 2022 round of shareholder meetings, asset managers should publish five- and 10-year climate decarbonization plans that align with that target, “so that by 2030 100 percent of all assets under management are on track to reach absolute zero emissions, without the use of offsets, by 2050 or sooner,” the statement said.
“Climate-competent” corporate board members, it added, should replace any incumbents not on board with these goals.
In a related development, Interfaith Power & Light — not one of the signatories to the “Climate Finance Moral Standards” document — presented a petition with 5,600 signatures Feb. 25 to the White House calling on President Joe Biden and Congress to make $550 billion in investments to cut the United States’ energy footprint.
“We need bold action that supports families in our communities and addresses core moral concerns. This includes the most significant climate and clean energy investments ever — that will create jobs and protect clean air and clean water for all,” the petition said. “Time is running out. We demand climate action.”
“Climate change is not an abstract threat to Sisters of Mercy. Over the past few years, sisters and ministries have stepped in to assist battered communities in the aftermath of super storms pummeling the Philippines and Haiti and of damaging floods in Peru and in Iowa here in the U.S.,” said a Feb. 25 statement by Marianne Comfort, justice coordinator for anti-racism and women for the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.
“That’s why we continue to advocate for investments in clean technology, climate resilience, and justice for peoples most harmed by the climate crisis and the fossil-fuel economy that is contributing to it,” Comfort said. “We urge President Biden and Congress to find a pathway to passing bold climate legislation to meet this administration’s stated commitment to address this crisis.”