Australian Provincial Fr Brian McCoy SJ has committed the Australian Jesuits to divesting from fossil fuels.
“In the light of our commitment to reconciliation with creation, we believe that divestment is an ethical, impactful and valuable opportunity to consider not only for the Australian Province but for all Australian companies,” said Fr McCoy in a statement released for World Environment Day on June 5.
Fr McCoy said that the Province would be working closely with its external asset managers to develop strategies to divest in fossil fuel or tier 1 companies – as detailed in the Australian Institute March Report ‘Climate proofing your investment: Moving funds out of fossil fuels’ – with the view to adding this to its screening requirements.
“It has been clear for some years that human beings will need to reconsider our relationship with the land if we are to preserve our world for future generations. The more we learn about the interconnectedness of life, the more we see how our decisions and actions can have far-reaching impacts, particularly on vulnerable communities in the poorest parts of the globe,” he added.
The Province already has investments in companies that contribute positively to society and the environment, including social bonds, wind turbine farms and solar energy.
“The key principle of the Province’s investment strategy is that all investment decisions must reflect the mission and values of the Province. The Society of Jesus has developed and implemented ‘Responsible Investment Guidelines’ to assist in this,” Fr McCoy explained.
“In particular, investments should not be made in companies in which there are serious concerns about their response to social justice and environmental issues. Industries which the Province would consider to be in conflict with its mission and values include tobacco manufacturing; gambling; pornography and prostitution; and manufacture and distribution of armaments.”
Fr McCoy has also committed the Province to contributing to the Flights for Forests programme launched by the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific in 2011. The initiative provides a way to offset the environmental impact of travel by contributing US$5 for every flight taken. Funds contributed to Flights for Forests are used to support forestry and other environmental regeneration projects in the Philippines, Cambodia and Timor-Leste.
“Travel brings us together and can be important in building relationships across Australia and around the globe. However, aviation is also one of the leading contributors to climate change,” he said. “I strongly encourage Jesuit communities and ministries to commit ourselves to voluntary contributions to this scheme.” [Australian Jesuits]
Main image: Australian Provincial Fr Brian McCoy SJ