A group of 19 Catholic organisations have announced a commitment to divest from fossil fuels, taking to more than 120 the number of Catholic institutions which have done so worldwide.

Led by Caritas India and the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference, the group - which also includes organisations located in Kenya, Fiji, Pakistan, and the US - has made the annoucement as non-state actors commited to tackling climate change gather in San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit.

Bishop Lumen Monteiro, chairman of Caritas India, said that with climate change negatively impacting the "lives and livelihoods of communities in India, especially the poor and marginalised" as part of its mission to take the Gospel's love and compassion to people who need it, "we must step away from the fossil fuels that cause so much suffering".

"The frequency of extreme climate events has increased in the last decade, and the latest one in Kerala has taken the lives of more than 400 people and displaced more than a million people," he said. "It will take them a long time to overcome this tragedy."

The Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference, which first declared it would divest of fossil fuels in late August, is only the second Catholic bishops' conference to do so worldwide. It follows the Episcopal Conference of Belgium.

Bishop William Crean, bishop of Cloyne and chairman of the Irish Catholic humanitarian aid agency Trócaire, said that "avoiding further climate change and protecting our common home requires a major change in direction".

"In particular, it requires a major shift in our energy and investment policies away from highly polluting fossil fuels towards cleaner renewable energy.”

Tomás Insua, executive director of Global Catholic Climate Movement, applauded the announcement.

“For decades, the church has called us to act on climate change. Now, as seas rise, deserts grow, and storms rage, the most vulnerable of our sisters and brothers are urgently calling us to make the courageous decisions that will protect them. The institutions divesting from fossil fuels today are doing their part to bend the curve of emissions downward, and we applaud their leadership and vision.”

The Global Climate Action Summit runs in San Franciso from 12th to 14th September.