Austrian Bishops´ Conference commits itself to divest from fossil fuels
This decision includes all financial investments of the Bishops´ Conference, all Austrian dioceses and all institutions within their sphere. Austria is the third Episcopal Conference after Belgium and Ireland announcing its divestment decision publicly.
“By signing the divestment commitment of the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) the Austrian Bishops´ Conference joins the global divestment movement of over a thousand institutions. This is a prophetic step that consequently follows the undeniable truth, that burning all known fossil fuel reserves will lead us to unthinkable catastrophes”, says Anja Appel, director of the Coordination Office of the Austrian Bishops´ Conference (KOO). As of today 1032 institutions globally signed divestment pledges – 28 percent are faith based organisations. “We are able to observe the consequences of the massive demand for resources and the thereby triggered ecological and social crisis every day in the living conditions of people in our partner countries – not just in the global south. It is unacceptable that people on other continents or the whole of creation pay the price for our excessive lifestyle. We, as Christians, and our institutions have the responsibility to care for creation and work towards global justice. We are among this part of the world’s population which produces the biggest share of greenhouse gas emissions and therefore naturally we need to fight its main cause – the use of fossil fuels”, Mrs Appel highlights. “This important step shows the Austrian bishops’ coherent effort to meet the demands of the Paris Climate Accord. The announced realignment of financial investments follows the climate action in the areas of energy and procurement already decided in 2015. All these steps empower us and the environmental delegates of the Austrian dioceses, who are participating in the implementation of climate action.”
Bishop Werner Freistetter, responsible for International Church Affairs, welcomes the announcement of the Bishops´ Conference: “From the perspective of integral ecology, logic of profit can no longer be the solely benchmark for economic activities, while ignoring moral obligations. By adopting ethical investment guidelines in 2017 the Catholic Church in Austria already took an important step towards aligning financial investments of Catholic institutions with the care for our common home. Our recent decision consequently follows this path. Financial investments of Catholic Institutions won’t fuel the climate crisis anymore, but instead will contribute to preserve creation. We call on other institutions to join the divestment movement with their pledges in order to maintain our common home for current and future generations.”
The Coordination Office (KOO) is a department of the Austrian Bishops´ Conference, responsible for development and missionary work. KOO promotes and coordinates the activities of organisations and dioceses of the Austrian Catholic Church in this area. KOO has 28 member organisations working in development and pastoral work as well as more than 50 missionary congregations. KOO is a member of CIDSE - International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity and of GCCM.