Time for the Vatican to divest from fossil fuels?

The Vatican should usher in a fossil-fuel free era by committing to divest its assets from the fossil fuel industry, says climate activist Lidy Nacpil.

pope francis vatican city
Pope Francis at Saint Peter's Square, the Vatican. The pope has recently spoken about the need for new financial and economic systems to avert climate change and mitigate its impact on humans. giulio napolitano / Shutterstock.com

The last few years have been particularly difficult for the people of the Philippines as we grapple with being at the frontline of the climate crisis. Our country contributes only about 0.24 percent of the world’s total carbon emissions, but is one of the countries hardest hit by the impacts of climate change.

Typhoons of unprecedented strength and rainfalls of record-breaking intensity have been battering the Philippines in the last five years. Ondoy, Sendong, Habagat, Pablo are names that evoke painful memories of devastation, death and loss brought about by climate-related disasters.

In 2013 it was Typhoon Haiyan (the strongest landfalling tropical cyclone ever recorded), and just two months ago Typhoon Hagupit dealt a powerful blow to the Philippines. The impacts of these extreme weather events include tens of  thousands of lives lost, hundreds of thousands homes destroyed, millions of people displaced, thousands of hectares of croplands demolished.

While numerous visits of tropical cyclones during rainy seasons have always been a part of life in the Philippines, they have been swiftly increasing in frequency, intensity and magnitude in recent years. The “Super Typhoon” is now the “new normal.”

Scientists agree that global warming and climate change is responsible for the rise in extreme weather events such as what we witness in the Philippines but also other parts of the world.

As our people bravely struggle to rise above the challenges brought about by the climate crisis, we join other peoples of the South in demanding that governments meet their responsibility and fulfill their obligations to address this global crisis. For years we have seen how economic growth and corporate interests always take precedence over the survival and the well-being of our people.

Pope’s visit

We urge Pope Francis take leadership in ushering a fossil-fuel free era by committing to divest the assets of the Holy See from the fossil fuel industry.

Millions of Filipinos find hope in recent statements by Pope Francis underscoring the need for urgent action from the global community to avert further catastrophe. As Filipinos prepare to welcome Pope Francis this week, with his planned visit to the areas hit hardest by Super Typhoon Haiyan, we will be looking for his leadership in light of his outspoken position on climate change.

In particular, we urge Pope Francis take leadership in ushering a fossil-fuel free era by committing to divest the assets of the Holy See from the fossil fuel industry. We urge him to use the power of his office to set an example for the world and join the 181 institutions and thousands of individuals worldwide who have already committed to divest from fossil fuels.

Investments in fossil fuel companies legitimise and perpetuate fossil fuel dependence that drives climate change, prop up fossil fuel corporations that oppose progress in climate action and prioritise profits over people and planet.

Divestment is a powerful way of challenging and changing this status quo, an act of solidarity and justice for the world’s most vulnerable people, a defense of nature and our planet.

Next month, thousands of people worldwide will join Global Divestment Day. We hope you will too.

Lidy Nacpil, is on 350.org‘s board of directors, also leads the Jubilee South - Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JS-APMDD), among others. This post was originally published on Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Alertnet.

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