Press Release No: 16/03
28 January 2016
Carbon Divestment: Concerns of the European Parliament and Churches Merge
On 27 January members of the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) enabling team met with members of the European Parliament Carbon Divestment Group. The two groups came together for a discussion on the use of fossil fuels as a major contributor to climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.
The Paris Agreement, the outcome of the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, shaped the exchange between ECEN and the MEPs. “Although the term decarbonisation is missing in the Paris climate agreement, its spirit is in the final text,” noted Reinhard Bütikofer MEP. “Divestment from fossil fuels is a particularly interesting topic because of its combining and ethical approach with concrete financial measures.”
Henrik Grape, ECEN member from the Church of Sweden, highlighted that for churches climate change is linked to both policies and ethics. From the church perspective, all policies on climate change—including divestment—are closely linked to justice and the need for lifestyle change. Members of the ECEN team shared examples of carbon divestment from their home contexts. They also raised concerns, including the reopening of brown coal mines in the Czech Republic and parallel efforts to stop support for alternative energy technologies.
MEPs appreciated the special role churches play in combating climate change. Jude Kirton-Darling MEP remarked, “We need the change of narrative. You cannot achieve political change without changing of narrative. In that, churches can play a crucial role.” Peter Pavlovic, secretary of ECEN, echoed Kirton-Darling’s sentiments, “Churches will continue their engagement with climate change, linking spiritual riches and prayers with concrete actions.”
The Carbon Divestment Group is an informal group within the European Parliament and gathers MEPs from different political parties to focus on carbon and fossil fuel policies. ECEN was invited to take part to exchange information on the activities of churches in Europe.
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Conference of European Churches
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of some 114 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 national council of churches and organisations in partnership. CEC was founded in 1959. It has offices in Brussels and Strasbourg.