CATHOLIC leaders in Scotland have today announced they'll pull their funds from fossil fuels as they join the largest ever faith divestment.

Every Catholic diocese in the country is joining the action.

The move comes ahead of UN climate summit COP26, which starts in Glasgow on Sunday. And it also comes four days before the G20 talks in Rome.

More than 70 faith institutions are taking part in the divestment move, including the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland. The Church of Scotland completed its divestment from fossil fuel companies in May this year.

Almost 40 UK faith institutions are involved in today's announcement, along with around 30 from other parts of the world. The move covers combined assets of more than £3.1 billion under management from Argentina to Zambia.

Bishop Bill Nolan, Bishop of Galloway and lead bishop on the environment for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland, said the move is intended to show "that the status quo is not acceptable and further, that given the harm that the production and consumption of fossil fuels is causing to the environment and to populations in low income countries, it was not right to profit from investment in these companies".

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He said: "Disinvestment is a sign that justice demands that we must move away from fossil fuels."

Pope Francis and other faith leaders have called on governments to address the "unprecedented ecological crisis" ahead of COP26.

Environmental justice activists have been calling for major funds to pull out of investments in oil and gas for years. Meanwhile, the UK Government is under increasing pressure over plans for extensive extraction in the Cambo oil field off Scotland. The Shell-backed plan would release emissions on a par with the annual carbon pollution from 18 coal-fired power stations.

In its recent Net Zero by 2050 Roadmap report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) stated that there can be no new coal, oil and gas developments if the world is to limit global warming to below 1.5°C and prevent catastrophic climate impacts.

Last month more than 20 Southern African Anglican bishops including leaders in South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia called for an immediate halt to gas and oil exploration on the continent, describing oil firms' action as "a new era of economic colonialism" and stating that "Africa’s natural habitats are being destroyed at an alarming rate through the extraction of oil and gas".

The Presbyterian Church of Wales, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church are amongst the institutions involved in today's announcement.

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James Buchanan, manager of the Bright Now campaign at Christian climate charity Operation Noah, said: "As COP26 is set to begin in Glasgow, we are delighted that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland and all Catholic dioceses in Scotland have decided to divest from fossil fuel companies and join this record global divestment announcement. We call on the UK and global governments to end fossil fuel subsidies and bring an immediate halt to new oil and gas developments, including the Cambo oil field."

Lorna Gold, chair of Laudato Si’ climate movement, commented: "People of faith are divesting at scale from coal, oil and gas, calling on the G20 in Rome and world leaders at COP26 to finally conclude that there is no future for fossil fuel finance. Fossil fuel divestment is a key part of ensuring a just transition for all, especially communities around the world who have done least to cause the climate crisis."