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Vatican urges Catholics to make major financial decision

Pope Francis has called for investors to divest from fossil fuels. (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP) (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)

The Vatican has called on the private sector and Catholic investors to ditch investments in arms and fossil fuels in a radical push for sustainability. 

“Building safe, accessible, reliable and efficient energy systems based on renewable energy sources would make it possible to respond to the needs of the poorest populations and at the same time limit global warming," Pope Francis said.

He said Catholics need to avoid supporting companies harmful to “human or social ecology”, including weapon makers and the fossil fuel industry. The Vatican also called on Catholics to reconsider investments in abortion providers, Reuters reported.

The Pope’s words come after 40 faith organisations around the world pledged to divest from fossil fuel, with more than half of this group Catholic. 

Last month, more that 40 faith organisations from around the world, more than half of them Catholic, pledged to divest from fossil fuel companies. 

Writing in the Vatican encyclical Laudato Si, the Pope said investors “could favour positive changes ... by excluding from their investments companies that do not satisfy certain parameters”. 

These parameters include child labour, human rights and environmental protection. 

The Vatican bank has said it does not invest in fossil fuels.

The Vatican also called for carbon dioxide emissions to be taxed on its news website, Vatican News. 

“The seas and oceans also cut to the heart of integral ecology. They are the ‘blue lungs of the planet’, and require governance focused on the common good of the entire human family and founded on the principle of subsidiarity,” the Vatican said. 

Additionally, it called for the world to move to a circular economy. 

“We must overcome the concept of ‘rejected waste’... because everything has value. This, however, will only be possible through positive interaction between technological innovation, investment in sustainable infrastructure, and growth in resource productivity.

“The private sector is called upon to operate transparently in the supply chain.”

Investments with environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials have weathered the coronavirus sell-off better than broader market equivalents, research has found.

“While some caveats remain, including adjustments for beta, credit quality and the sudden market recovery, we are encouraged by evidence of an overall relationship between strong sustainability factors and returns, lending further credence to the importance of analysing ESG factors as part of a fundamental research approach,” said Jenn-Hui Tan, global head of stewardship and sustainable investing at Fidelity International.

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