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Catholic institutions commit to divesting fossil fuels and investing in climate solutions

ImpactAlpha, June 22The Vatican’s call last week urging Catholic congregations to divest from fossil fuels came in a 225-page manual meant to provide practical steps for implementing Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on climate change.

‘Journeying Towards Care For Our Common Home’ calls for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to “shun companies that are harmful to human or social ecology, such as abortion and armaments, and to the environment, such as fossil fuels.” The manual also called for “stringent monitoring” to prevent air, soil and water contamination.

  • Climate solutions. More than a dozen congregations of Dominican sisters last week announced a pooled investment of $46.6 million to seed two new Climate Solutions Funds managed by Morgan Stanley Investment Management. The funds target clean energy and energy efficiency as well as the needs of communities impacted by climate change. The private fund closed this spring with $110 million. Other Catholic institutions, including the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, which allocated 5% of its investment capital, backed a public version of the climate fund that has raised another $20 million.
  • Catholic pledges. Georgetown University, a Jesuit school, pledged in February to divest from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy projects. In May, more than 20 Catholic institutions joined a faith-based divestment pledge. The Catholic Impact Investing Collaborative, which includes some of the Dominican congregations, now has 21 U.S. and European signatories to its impact investing pledge, representing $40 billion in assets.

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