World Council of Churches joins Paris international divest from fossil fuel call

(Photo: REUTERS / Adrees Latif)Some of hundreds of thousands take part in the People's Climate March through Midtown, New York September 21, 2014. An international day of action on climate change brought hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets of New York City on Sunday, easily exceeding organizers' hopes for the largest protest on the issue in history. Organizers estimated that some 310,000 people, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and elected officials from the United States and abroad joined the People's Climate March, ahead of Tuesday's United Nations hosted summit in the city to discuss reducing carbon emissions that threaten the environment.

A Lutheran pastor campaigning for climate justice for the World Council of Churches has spoken at a conference in Paris calling for worldwide divestment from fossil fuels for the sake of planet earth.

With just two months before the crucial United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21), an International Divestment Conference was held in Paris, on 1 September.

There, Rev. Henrik Grape of the Church of Sweden represented the World Council of Churches as a key speaker, the WCC said in a 2 September statement.

"The logic of divestment couldn't be simpler: if it's wrong to wreck the climate, it's wrong to profit from that wreckage," said Grape in Paris.

The conference focused on the growing movement to withdraw investments from fossil fuels that create emissions causing climate change, and to invest in sustainable energy.

Speakers supporting divestment said underpinning the conference was the knowledge that if the known global fossil fuel reserves are burnt, they would emit more than three times the maximum emissions that the climate can bear.

This would create catastrophic rises in sea levels, extreme weather events and the failure of fisheries and agriculture.

For the safety of humanity, these fossil fuels have to stay in the ground, argued the conference participants.

Grape said that, in particular, "poorer countries in the tropics are already experiencing climate change disasters, and the WCC's member churches around the world bear witness to this.

"But extended droughts and increasingly severe weather events are also affecting other areas of the world."

Grape joined Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation and James Randerson of The Guardian newspaper, among others, on a conference panel.

Grape explained: "The 1st of September is the start of Time for Creation, a time of prayer for creation. The whole ecumenical family of faith communities join to pray and to act for a more sustainable world."

He said it is also Fast for the Climate day, uniting faith communities over the world for action on climate change

"Praying and fasting push us to take concrete actions. Our prayers and actions need to be consistent, we should put our money where our mouth is," he noted.

"Divestment is an ethical issue, and on ethical criteria WCC decided not to invest in fossil fuels," and this included the Church of Sweden and other churches in the ecumenical family.

"And since divesting, the return on our investments has improved. For the third consecutive year, returns on the total portfolio have outperformed the reference portfolio returns."

Grape asserted, "Climate change is the main challenge to our time. We need to make a real change to avoid a future that will be hard for coming generations to deal with."

He said justice and equity are part of the spiritual vision faith communities bring as carriers of hope.

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