Withdraw from Coal: Religious congregations pledge to lead in financial exodus from coal

    In a manifesto issued on Thursday, treasurers and leaders of 28 religious congregations from across the Philippines vowed to forbid assets under their care from being used to fund the development of dirty energy from coal, and promised to take charge in the transition to clean energy as a “concrete act of love for our Common Home.”
        The commitment to ensure the coal exit of Church resources was made during a virtual gathering held Wednesday afternoon entitled ‘Online Conversation on Divestment: Invest in the Future’ organized by the Global Catholic Climate Movement – Pilipinas (GCCM – Pilipinas), along with the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP), and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP – NASSA/ Caritas Philippines).
        “We, the undersigned, as leaders and treasurers of religious congregations, as witnesses to the love of the Creator made manifest in nature, and in celebration of the fifth year of Laudato Si’, express our full commitment to advance the coal divestment movement in the Philippines,” said the manifesto.
     The pledge was made as part of the celebration of the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’, the encyclical of Pope Francis which called for “swift and unified global action” to address the climate emergency.
    “In the spirit of Laudato Si’, we declare our recognition that divestment from destructive industries, especially coal, is part and parcel of our duties as stewards of Creation and of the assets of the Catholic faithful. We believe that coal, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels and the single biggest contributor to the climate emergency, goes against everything that the Church stands for – most especially the preservation of life and dignity of the human person and the care for God’s Creation,” the manifesto continued.
      The virtual gathering featured Church leaders Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila and Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos, and Gerry Arances of energy think-tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) as resource speakers to lead the discussion on the urgency of withdrawing from coal.
         “Today, the Church, civil society, and communities are joining hands to advance clean energy for all. The commitment made by our leaders and treasurers to serve as voices of the coal divestment movement within and without Philippine local banks where they are stakeholders should be taken by bank decision-makers as indication that even more ambitious steps to preserve our Common Home will follow. They must divest from coal now,” said Bro. John Din, National Coordinator of GCCM-Pilipinas.
        In light of the circumstances we are in due to the coronavirus pandemic, the declaration noted that divestment from coal is also very timely.
        “We today find ourselves amid two global crises that reveal the consequences of decisions that fail to place the health of our people and the planet first: the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency, which both call for the bringing about of a better world. We believe that withdrawing from coal is key to attaining this,” the manifesto concluded.

PHOTO: Human chain formed by at least 7,000 residents, lead by the Church, in Negros Island in 2019 to oppose the 300 MW coal-fired power plant proposed to be built in San Carlos City. Photo from Rappler.