Healing the Planet, with Faith and Finance
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Editorial

Healing the Planet, with Faith and Finance

Environmental activists rally for accountability for fossil fuel companies outside of New York Supreme Court on October 22, 2019 in New York City. Tuesday is the first day of a trial where New York's attorney general is taking on ExxonMobil in a landmark case that accuses the oil corporation of misleading investors about the company's financial risks due to climate change. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Environmental activists rally for accountability for fossil fuel companies outside of New York Supreme Court on October 22, 2019 in New York City. Tuesday is the first day of a trial where New York's attorney general is taking on ExxonMobil in a landmark case that accuses the oil corporation of misleading investors about the company's financial risks due to climate change. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

There’s an understandably wide gulf between the pulpit and the boardroom. Rabbis deal with matters of community and spirit, while titans of high finance focus on the bottom line. So it is always surprising, and in this case gratifying, when faith and finance lead to a similar conclusion: Climate change is reshaping our world for the worse, and no one can stand idly by.

This week Larry Fink, CEO of the giant asset manager BlackRock, wrote to business leaders that the “evidence on climate risk is compelling investors to reassess core assumptions about modern finance.” In his annual letter, Fink noted, “Even if only a fraction of the science is right today, this is a much more structural, long-term crisis.” As a result, his firm would launch new sustainable funds and press companies to reduce their carbon footprints.

Also this week, over 500 rabbis and Jewish leaders signed “A New Rabbinic Call to Action On the Climate Crisis” (full story here). They weren’t just offering their “thoughts and prayers.” Their pointed letter is as specific and concrete as BlackRock’s, calling on banks and politicians to invest in renewable energy and on congregations and Jewish institutions to change their wasteful habits, and urging comprehensive legislation to fight climate change.

The combination of conscience and commerce can be a potent one, perhaps moving the current discussion beyond partisan outrage and denial and toward solutions that just might save us from ourselves.

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