05/08/2014 09:25 am ET Updated May 08, 2014

UN Climate Head Christiana Figueres Urges Religious Leaders To Call For Fossil Fuel Divestment


Top UN official Christiana Figueres called on religious leaders to speak out on climate change in an impassioned op-ed for The Guardian. She is Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Figueres framed climate change as a moral and ethical issue as well as an economic and environmental one and stressed the need for urgent action ahead of a new climate agreement in 2015.

"It is time for faith groups and religious institutions to find their voice and set their moral compass on one of the great humanitarian issues of our time," she wrote.

On a practical and actionable level, Figueres urged religious leaders to pull their investments in fossil fuel companies and encourage their followers to do so as well.

The divestment movement is gaining steam all over the world as universities and local authorities get involved. In 2013, the United Church of Christ (UCC) became the first national faith group to vote in favor of divesting from fossil fuel companies. Since then, eleven other religious institutions have followed suit.

In April, Archbishop Desmond Tutu added his voice to the cause. The South African religious leader called for an anti-apartheid-style boycott and disinvestment campaign against the fossil fuel industry, reported The Guardian.

A multi-faith coalition of religious groups sent a letter to Pope Francis in April to ask him to encourage fossil fuel divestment.

"Leaders of faith groups, from Christians and Muslims to Hindus, Jews and Buddhists have a responsibility and an opportunity over the next 18 months to provide a moral compass to their followers and to political, corporate, financial and local authority leaders," declared Figueres.

"In doing so, faiths and religions can not only secure a healthy and habitable world for all but contribute to the spiritual and physical well-being of humanity now and for generations to come," she added.



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