Moral Standards for Asset Managers?

By GreenFaith.

Religious leaders spanning diverse faiths and continents, representing over half a billion people globally, are making an unprecedented demand this spring on the leaders of large asset managers such as BlackRock and Vanguard. The demand is for these companies to recognize the universal moral values that require them to end their role in the climate’s destruction and to stop investing in fossil fuels, deforestation, and systemic violations of human and Indigenous rights.

The large international coalition—organized by GreenFaith and including Faith for the Climate Network, Green Anglicans, Hindus for Human Rights, Islamic Society of North America, Laudato Si’ Movement, Operation Noah, and the World Council of Churches—formally endorsed the Climate Finance Moral Standards for Asset Managers. The standards make clear the need for an end to fossil fuel production and deforestation, a rapid and just transition to a sustainable future, access to affordable and accessible renewable energy for all, and respect for Indigenous rights.

“A just transition from a fossil-fuel based, polluting economy to one that is life-giving and founded on renewable energy requires a change in how the whole world is investing,” said Peter Prove, Director of the World Council of Churches’ Commission on International Affairs. “Those who are responsible for managing our pensions and other assets must heed God’s call to love our neighbours and care for creation. We have to ensure that our resources and investments do not contribute to the destruction of God’s unique creation, but to building sustainable and equitable alternatives that respond to the climate emergency. We urge the world’s asset managers to understand: this is something that we can and must do now for our children and the generations to come.”

GreenFaith and others are mobilizing religious leaders, faith institutions, and grassroots people of faith to call on the world’s largest asset managers to commit to these standards. “As people of diverse faiths and spiritualities, we call on the world’s asset managers to stop financing the profoundly immoral destruction of our climate,” said GreenFaith’s Director of Education and Training, the rev. abby mohaupt. “We are bound together across religions by our belief that the natural world is a sacred trust, and the belief that material wealth must be used to promote the shared welfare of all. Those responsible for managing financial assets are morally bound to take right action, to act ethically, and to respect these universal moral values. All of us are at risk when the managers of the world’s wealth violate these precepts.”

The standards are a bold new expansion of the religious community’s role in climate finance, building on its longstanding support for the fossil fuel divestment movement, which has grown to encompass over $40 trillion of assets under management.