More religious congregations in the Philippines have pledged this week to distance themselves from “dirty energy projects.”
At least 20 Catholic religious orders in the country vowed to disallow investments of assets under their care to coal and other “dirty energy projects.”
Representatives of religious orders of men and women have signed a manifesto on May 20 expressing their full commitment to advance the coal divestment movement.
“In the spirit of Laudato si’, we declare our recognition that divestment from destructive industries, especially coal, is part and parcel of our duties as stewards of Creation and of the assets of the Catholic faithful,” read the manifesto.
“We believe that coal, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels and the single biggest contributor to the climate emergency, goes against everything that the Church stands for — most especially the preservation of life and dignity of the human person and the care for God’s Creation,” it added.
Among the religious congregations that signed the manifesto are the Missionary Sisters of St. Columban, the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, the Religious of the Virgin Mary, and the Daughters of St. Joseph.
The announcement was made during the celebration of the fifth anniversary of the issuance of Laudati si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment.
The religious congregations noted that the world is facing “two global crises,” which they said manifest that “duty-bearers” failed “to place the health of our people and the planet first.”
Their statement said the world is confronted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency that call for “the bringing about of a better world.”
Father Angel Cortez, executive secretary of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines, said the divestment from “dirty energy projects” is a response to the call of Pope Francis.
“As a community and as leaders of our congregations, we support the campaign on coal divestment … to protect the future of the youth of today and generations to come who have yet to enjoy the bounty of Creation,” said the priest.
Early this week, 42 church and faith-based institutions, including Catholic lay organizations, have announced that they are divesting US$1.4 billion from fossil fuels.
John Din, national coordinator of the Global Catholic Climate Movement-Pilipinas said the commitment made by church institutions should be taken by coal financiers “as an indication that even more ambitious steps to preserve our Common Home will follow.”
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of Manila, said among the concrete actions laid in the pastoral letter on ecology, which the Philippine bishops’ issued last year, “are the transition to clean energy and divestment from coal and fossil fuels.”
The prelate said these actions that the Church can really take on “serves as an example for others and to ensure that resources of the Church are truly used for the common good.”
“This is important because we cannot say that we believe and praise God our Father if we allow His Creation to be destroyed,” he said.
In April, Bishop Pabillo reaffirmed his call for Philippine banks to “choose to preserve human life and steer the transition towards technologies and resources that protect Creation.”
The Archdiocese of Manila is one of the major shareholders of a bank institution that is invested in coal-fired power plants in many parts of the country.
Studies revealed that coal is the single biggest source of human-induced global warming.
The Philippines has 28 existing coal power plants and 26 more in the pipeline. It represents 52 percent of the country’s energy mix while renewable energy is at about 22 percent and the natural gas at 21 percent.
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos in the central Philippines said the world has a decade left “to create meaningful action to prevent even more catastrophic climate change.”
He said “ending coal, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, is urgent.”