World Council of Churches to Divest from World's Dirty Fuels

Representing more than half a billion people, the decision is called 'major victory' for global movement calling for transition away from oil, coal, and gas

In what the global fossil fuel divestment movement is claiming as a "major victory," the World Council of Churches has agreed to phase out its financial holdings in the world's dirtiest energy sources and will encourage the congregants in the churches it represents to do the same.

Passed by a vote taken Thursday in Geneva at meeting of the Central Committee of the WWC—comprised of over 300 Christian churches from around the world and representing some 590 million people in 150 countries—the council sited both its ethical obligations, the desires of its members, and Biblical scripture as informing its decision.

“There was an explicit wish at the Finance Committee to include fossil fuels as one of the sectors where the WCC will not invest in, based on decisions to divest from fossil fuels taken by member churches in different parts of the world,” said Guillermo Kerber, who coordinates the WCC’s work on care for creation and climate justice. “The general ethical guidelines for investment already included the concern for a sustainable environment, for future generations and CO2 footprint. Adding fossil fuels to the list of sectors where the WCC does not invest in serves to strengthen the governing body’s commitment on climate change as expressed in various sessions of the Central Committee.”

Bill McKibben, co-founder of, which has spearheaded the fossil-free divestment movement, celebrated the news.

“The World Council of Churches reminds us that morality demands thinking as much about the future as about ourselves–and that there’s no threat to the future greater than the unchecked burning of fossil fuels,” said Bill McKibben, the founder of, a global climate campaign that is supporting the divestment effort. “This is a remarkable moment for the 590 million Christians in its member denominations: a huge percentage of humanity says today ‘this far and no further.’”

The WWC is not the first church or religious organizations to endorse fossil fuel divestment, but it is certainly the largest.  According to the Guardian, "studies have suggested the fossil fuel divestment campaign, which began in the US, has been faster than than any previous divestment movement such as tobacco and apartheid."

Read more: