Youth with a banners in demonstration

Climate march in the streets of New York in September 2019, when some 60,000 young people called upon their government officials, churches, and all the adults in their lives to not just say the right words, but begin a transformation in their daily lives.


Rev. Dr Hyunju Bae, co-president of Korean Christian Environmental Movement Solidarity for Integrity of Creation, offered a brief history of the commitment of the World Council of Churches (WCC) to eco-justice.

She also explored the role of Korean ecumenical Christianity in climate justice and, among many other facets of WCC’s work, Bae cited the initiative “climate-responsible banking – a moral imperative towards for children”.

Frederique Seidel, WCC senior advisor on child rights, offered an intervention, “Churches Saving Children's Lives through Climate Solutions,” citing examples of investment strategies to fight global warming pioneered by churches and Christian organizations.

She also presented the statement shared by children from churches at the Paris Global Financing Pact summit in June.

“Your interest in the power of green finance could help to turn what is currently a blind spot into an exponential roadmap for children’s future,” Seidel said. “Indeed, the 2023 Banking on Climate Chaos Report shows that fossil fuel financing from the world’s 60 largest banks has reached USD $5.54.6 trillion in the 7 years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, with $742 billion in fossil fuel financing in 2021 alone.”

Children and young people are scared and discouraged by the absence of progress in halting global warming, explained Seidel. "The education of around 38 million children is disrupted each year by the climate emergency,” she said. “Nearly 90% of the burden of disease attributable to climate change is borne by children under the age of five.”

The climate crisis is a children’s crisis, she said—and a fossil fuel crisis.

“We need to reassure children that adults are doing all they can to halt the life-threatening increase of CO2 emissions,” said Seidel. "Therefore we led research among WCC member churches with experts who use one of the most powerful levers for the acceleration of climate solutions: climate-responsible banking.”

She then explained how money a church or a family puts aside is busily shaping our future. “Often our money is being used to fund activities we would never dream of supporting directly: for example carbon bombs – new drilling for fossil fuels,” she said. “In the current absence of effective legal frameworks prohibiting new carbon bombs, the most powerful alternative and source of hope for children’s future comes from asset owners.”

More and more churches are therefore asking their financial service providers for transparency on how their investments are managed, Seidel explained. “Every church, individual, institution, and business can help to defuse carbon bombs through their banking,” she said. “By engaging with our banks and pension funds, we can help billions of young people worldwide to lift a far too heavy burden from their shoulders.”

A sustainable future is possible if all of us use the powerful lever of engaging with our banks and pension funds, she said.

“What is the potential of South Korea in this challenge, with its rapid economic growth?” Seidel asked. “Let us come together and influence how money is invested: church money, family money, an institution’s money, a nation’s money. We need everyone to take this step for children.”

Climate-Responsible Finance - a Moral Imperative towards Children

Save Children’s Lives – Climate-Responsible Banking Survival Guide

Learn more about the WCC's Engagement for Children