Ethical investment and Climate Change
It is about an "ecological conversion", which starts with personal lifestyle and ranges to the establishment of a new global economic and social order. The global dimension of environmental challenges becomes particularly clear on the question of climate change and the need to mitigating it.
The "care for our common home" is a central theme of this pontificate and the Church. For this reason, the Austrian Bishops' Conference already started the implementation of the encyclical already in autumn of 2015 and opted for a sustainable and climate-friendly governance and orientation of the dioceses. Linked to this is a transition towards renewable energy.
Against this background, the bishops adopted the ethical investment guidelines "Financial Investments as Cooperation" (FINANKO) in autumn 2017. The criteria of the guidelines follow the proven triad of ecumenical Christian ethics and are justice, peace and the care for creation. The ethical investment guidelines provide assessments of investment types such as funds, derivatives, index investments or commodities such as gold. The principles of ethical investment are "change - promote - prevent" and are implemented through concrete exclusion criteria, the best-in-class approach with regard to projects that are particularly worthy for investment and engagement for concrete influence on institutions through investments.
Financial means of the Church must not exert a destructive influence on our planet’s climate. Therefore, the Austrian Episcopal Conference has now decided to sign the divestment pledge of the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) and to adjust the ethical investment guidelines accordingly. Additional to the already established ban on coal mining and fracking, this decision implies that over the next five years the Church will divest from all companies that extract or produce fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) in all asset classes .
This full divestment applies to all Austrian dioceses, the Episcopal conference and all institutions within its scope. To ensure the implementation and interpretation of the now tightened ethical investment guidelines, a new body called “Permanent Commission” will be established.