divest and invest now
It’s time to align faith-based finances with a sustainable future.
HOW WE USE OUR MONEY REVEALS OUR VALUES
That’s why, since 2013, GreenFaith has supported faith-based fossil fuel divestment campaigns. More than 130 religious institutions with assets of over US $24 billion have committed to full or partial fossil fuel divestment.
Here are resources to help you start a divestment campaign in your faith community.
Launching a campaign in your faith community
Examples of faith-based divestment campaigns
Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist divestment
GreenFaith is also the co-founder of Shine, a campaign organizing values-driven investors to fund and invest in decentralized clean energy solutions for regions that lack access to electricity.
If you’re interested in working with GreenFaith on a faith divestment campaign, email Sara@greenfaith.org.
LAUNCHING A DIVEST AND INVEST CAMPAIGN IN YOUR FAITH COMMUNITY
Divest and Invest efforts create energizing opportunities for your faith community to make a lasting impact. Here are some suggestions about how to get started.
RELATIONSHIPS: THE STARTING POINT FOR CHANGE
Change begins with relationships. Get to know those who are responsible for investment decisions in your faith community, and learn about their values and interests. In addition, connect with people in various faith communities who are active on divestment to share ideas.
KNOWLEDGE: UNDERSTANDING YOUR CONTEXT
Learning about your religious group, its structures and policies will equip you to move your faith community toward divestment. Study your tradition’s scriptures and teachings on care for the earth and for others. Learn your tradition’s investment values and guidelines. Find out what processes and values inform investing decisions.
ACTION: BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL FAITH DIVESTMENT CAMPAIGN
Now build your campaign and set your goals. Draft a proposal or resolution and share it with your decision-making body. Involve as many people as you can through events, study groups, and social media.
Faith Divestment Campaigns:
Islam has a history of Sharia-compliant (halal) investing which avoids companies that cause harm (haram), including gambling, the production, distribution or sale of pornography, alcohol, tobacco, weapons and pork.
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) made the Muslim world’s fossil fuel divestment commitment in 2016, in a statement that said, “It goes against the mission of ISNA to invest in fossil fuel companies whose operations and products cause such grave harm to humanity and to creation.”
In 2019, at the Financing the Future Summit in Cape Town, the Fiqh Council of North America issued a fatwa (an authoritative Islamic teaching) affirming fossil fuel divestment and calling on Islamic investment firms to create fossil fuel-free investment vehicles. In addition, three UK-based Islamic groups issued a joint statement saying that profiting from fossil fuel investments is no longer morally acceptable.
Islamic economics should help society achieve the goals of the Maqasid al-Shari’ah (objectives of Shariah, Islam’s sacred law) which include the preservation of life (nags), faith (Din), family (Nasl), intellect (Aql), and material resources (mal). As the renowned Islamic scholar Abu Hamid al-Ghazali wrote, “Whatever ensures the safeguarding of these five principles serves public interest and is desirable, and whatever hurts them is against public interest and its removal is desirable.” Maqasid al-Shari’ah is designed to enhance welfare (maslahah) on the one hand, and prevent harm (mafsadah) on the other hand. This ensures justice and social welfare in all aspects of life.
Look at birds: Even they respect their nests because they know their survival depends on it. This small blue planet is our only home. If we do not respect it, the entire planet and billions and billions of species will be affected. This is a question of life, a question of survival for the entire planet.
– His Holiness the Dalai Lama
The Earth is a loving mother, nurturing and protecting all peoples and all species without discrimination. When you realize the Earth is so much more than simply your environment, you’ll be moved to protect her in the same way as you would yourself. ‒Thich Nhat Hanh, Falling in Love with the Earth, Statement to the UNFCCC, 2014
In 2016, the Sydney (Australia) Buddhist Centre became the first Buddhist institution to divest from fossil fuels. Read more here.
Japanese Buddhists are in the early stages of pressing Buddhist temples to divest. Read more here.
The UK-based Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement (DANCE) has pressed Barclay’s Bank to end its fossil fuel investments. Read more here.
Interconnectedness of all living things is central to Buddhism and for many Buddhists, the ecological crisis is due in part to our failure to recognize humanity’s interconnectedness with the Earth. Buddhism encourages its followers to restrict the acquisition of wealth to the necessities; otherwise the attainment of enlightenment risks preclusion. The Buddha advocated frugality and asceticism to counter materialist consumption and the exploitation of natural resources.
I must confess that I do not draw a sharp or any distinction between economics and ethics. Economics that hurt the moral well-being of an individual or a nation are immoral and, therefore, sinful.
‒ Mahatma Gandhi
A transition towards using 100-percent clean energy is desperately needed, as rapidly as is possible in every nation. Doing so provides the only basis for sustainable, continued human development. ‒ Hindu Declaration on Climate Change, 2015
Hindu economic philosophy positively regards the importance of creating and enjoying wealth, so long as this is combined with an emphasis on justice, compassion, kindness, and charity, and the need for moderating self-interest. However, the path to fossil fuel divestment and climate-friendly investment is still emerging for Hindu communities, and early work is underway to explore how Hindu investors might lead religious investing on sustainable agriculture and alternatives to factory farming.
In India, Hindu temple donations or endowments are often controlled by state governments, leaving some temples with little control over their money. However, some large Hindu temples are becoming active investors, looking beyond traditional investment options and diversifying their portfolios.
In 2008, the Dow Jones Dharma Index was launched to measure Dharma-compliant equities, enabling Hindus, Buddhist, Sikhs and Jains to invest in funds that reflected their religious values. While it did not exclude fossil fuels, it did include environmental, social and governance criteria, and excluded defense, alcohol, gambling, tobacco, adult entertainment and animal testing.