In TED Countdown, Pope Francis calls for divestment from fossil fuels

October 22, 2020

Photo courtesy of TED

Pope Francis urged all people and organizations to forge a more life-giving future through “concrete and pressing actions” and to divest from fossil fuels during his recent TED Countdown talk.

Creation is in desperate need of our love, as witnessed through the record-breaking wildfires in North and South America, more frequent severe droughts in Africa, and stronger storms in Asia and Oceania.

Our sisters and brothers are crying out for help, Pope Francis said. The most vulnerable among us are experiencing the worst effects of the climate crisis, despite having little to do with the heat-trapping greenhouse gases that scientists say are causing warmer global temperatures.

It’s time for the world to undergo an energy transition, “a gradual replacement but without delay, of fossil fuels with clean energy sources,” Pope Francis said.

All people and organizations can lead such a transition by divesting from fossil fuel companies, “those companies that do not meet the parameters of integral ecology,” while investing in companies that place “at the center of their activities, sustainability, social justice, and the promotion of the common good.”

Pope Francis praised the 190 Catholic organizations and more than 1,200 communities worldwide that have shown the way and “have already taken on the responsibility to act in this direction.”

Learn more about how your community can divest from fossil fuels

This just transition away from fossil fuels should be “attentive to the impact on the poor, on local populations, as well as on those who work in the energy production sectors,” Pope Francis said.

“Our conscience tells us that we cannot remain indifferent to the suffering of those in need, to the growing economic inequalities and social injustices.”

Pope Francis’ words echo ground-breaking environmental guidelines the Vatican released in June to help the Church further bring Laudato Si’ to life throughout the world.

The guidelines suggest Catholic institutions “promote ethical, responsible, and integral criteria for investment decision making, taking care not to support companies that harm human or social ecology (for example, through abortion or the arms trade), or environmental ecology (for example, through the use of fossil fuels).”

Bishop William Crean, chairman of Trócaire, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church, said following the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s decision to divest that choosing to divest sends a profound statement to companies and to the world.

“It’s about joining the growing social movement, led by and large, by a new generation across the world, calling for a new realignment of our financial policies to safeguard their future. It makes good sense and it is the least that we can offer our future generations.”