Churches Divesting from the Fossil Fuel Industry


2/2/2015

CHURCHES DIVESTING FROM THE
FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY
Joan M. Gregory
Co-Coordinator, Environmental Ministry
First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, UT
THE FOSSIL FREE CAMPAIGN
 Educational and religious institutions, city and state
governments, and other institutions that serve the public
good are divesting from fossil fuels.
 What does divestment mean:
 immediately freeze any new investment in fossil fuel
companies, and
 commit to divest from direct ownership and any commingled
funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate
bonds within 5 years. Then divest.
 200 publicly-traded corporations
http://gofossilfree.org/companies/ hold the vast majority
of the world’s proven coal, oil and gas reserves. Those
are the corporations we’re asking our institutions to
divest.
2/2/2015

THE FOSSIL FREE CAMPAIGN
 Our demands of these corporations are
simple, reflecting the stark truth of climate
science:
 immediately stop exploring for new
hydrocarbons;
 immediately stop lobbying in Washington and
state capitols across the country to preserve their
special breaks; and
 immediately pledge to keep 80% of their current
reserves underground forever.
 FAQ: http://gofossilfree.org/faq/
COMMITMENTS
A growing number of institutions are
committing to divest from the fossil fuel
industry.
 Colleges and universities, cities, counties,
religious institutions, and other institutions.
 http://gofossilfree.org/commitments/
2/2/2015

UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
 On June 30, 2013, the national synod of the United Church of
Christ passed a resolution calling all parts of the church body to
take action on climate change.
 The resolution “urging divestment” exhorts the UCC church and its
members to lead by example
 by moving away from fossil fuels and reducing greenhouse gas
emissions;
 by engaging personally, in community, and through public witness and
advocacy to help make changes nationally; and
 by making shareholder engagement on climate change a top priority
by seeking fossil-fuel free investments and
 by conducting a hearing at their 2015 national gathering (Synod 2015)
to defend any remaining fossil fuel investments as “best in class.”
 Resolutions urging divestment, addressing the carbon neutrality of
UCC church buildings, and addressing mountaintop removal coal
mining can be read in full at UCC.org.
GREENFAITH
 GreenFaith’s mission is to inspire, educate and
mobilize people of diverse religious backgrounds
for environmental leadership.
 Based on beliefs shared by the world’s great
religions:
 protecting the earth is a religious value
 environmental stewardship is a moral responsibility
 core values: spirit, stewardship, justice
 Divest & Reinvest Now Campaign:
http://greenfaith.org/programs/divest-and-reinvest
 Financial Considerations on Divestment and
Reinvestment: http://greenfaith.org/programs/divestand-
reinvest/webinar-recordings-on-divest-reinvestnow
[Webinar recording]
2/2/2015

• Investment
 What? Who invests? Why?
Divestment
 Getting rid of stocks, bonds, or investment funds that
are unethical or morally ambiguous or downright
immoral.
 Fossil fuel investments are a risk for both investors
and the planet, so we’re calling on institutions to divest
from these companies.
 Fossil fuel investments are a risk for both investors and
the planet.
 Fossil fuel divestment takes the fossil fuel industry to task
for its culpability in the climate crisis.
 By divesting, we are naming this industry’s singularly
destructive influence.
 By highlighting the moral dimensions of climate change
— the goal of the fossil fuel divestment movement is to
help break the stranglehold that the fossil
fuel industry has on our economy and our
governments.
2/2/2015

 Smart.
 Ethical.
 Forward-Thinking.
 Sustainable.
 Prudent.
 The Right Thing to Do!
THE MATH IS SIMPLE!
 Do the Math Tour – Nov 2012
 3 Numbers
 2°Celsius (3.6°Farenheit)
 565 gigatons of CO2
 2,795 gigatons of CO2
 Fossil fuel companies are planning
to burn it all — unless we rise up
to stop them.
http://math.350.org/
2/2/2015

FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH OF SLC DIVESTS
 Effort led by Rev. Tom Goldsmith
 Significant support from Tim DeChristopher
 Both delivered sermons
 Our resolution and an article introducing it to our
congregation by Rev Goldsmith, our Endowment
Committee, our Social Justice Council, and our
Environmental Ministry was published in the April
8th issue of our newsletter: The Torch.
 The text of our resolution was very simple.
FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH OF SLC
RESOLUTION
 Resolved, that the First Unitarian Church of Salt
Lake City, Utah, divest itself of any assets currently
invested in companies involved in the fossil fuel
industry (e.g., oil, gas, coal, and unconventional
fuels such as tar sands and oil shale) and
undertake no such new investments without
congregational approval.
 Be it further resolved that the First Unitarian Church
of Salt Lake City, Utah, encourage other churches,
the Unitarian Universalist Association, and other
religious denominations to do the same.
2/2/2015

FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH OF SLC
 We held a forum (no video – unfortunately) on Fri,
May 17th which identified some valuable resources,
some of which are listed in your handouts.
 Sunday, May 23, 2013 – we voted unanimously to
divest our endowment from the fossil fuel industry
 Our Endowment Committee set to work and by the
fall – we were divested!
 And then Environmental Ministry began the work of
spreading the action nationally.
UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST ASSOCIATION GENERAL
ASSEMBLY 2013 ACTION OF IMMEDIATE WITNESS
(AIW)
 AIW on America’s Redrock Wilderness Act in 2009
 In May 2013, First Unitarian joined with other UU
churches to create a Divestment AIW: First Unitarian
Society of Milwaukee, WI; UU Newburyport, MA; UU
Fellowship, Bozeman MT; First Parish, Cambridge,
MA
 Just before UUA Treasurer came out with a scathing
article in UU World against divestment and in favor,
instead of shareholder advocacy
http://www.uuworld.org/ideas/articles/285525.shtml
 AIW Passed overwhelmingly but not without
controversy and major pushback from UUA officers
and staff:
http://www.uua.org/statements/statements/288863.shtml
2/2/2015

BUSINESS RESOLUTION
 Next step – how to move from discussion to action
– A UUA Business Resolution
 To get a Business Resolution onto the UUA General
Assembly Agenda for the UUA meeting in
Providence RI in June 25-29 2014, we had to:
 Create a business resolution
 Obtain 10 minister certified signatures from each of at
least 25 congregations across the country
 Have congregations represented at UUA in 2014 to
discuss and vote in favor of this resolution
ADVOCATING FOR THE
RESOLUTION
 Outreach
 Listservs
 Website
 Buttons
 Booth at the General Assembly
 Blog posts
 Articles in UU World