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
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
THE FOSSIL FREE CAMPAIGN
Our demands of these corporations are
simple, reflecting the stark truth of climate
immediately stop exploring for new
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.
A growing number of institutions are
committing to divest from the fossil fuel
Colleges and universities, cities, counties,
religious institutions, and other institutions.
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
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’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
protecting the earth is a religious value
environmental stewardship is a moral responsibility
core values: spirit, stewardship, justice
Divest & Reinvest Now Campaign:
Financial Considerations on Divestment and
What? Who invests? Why?
Getting rid of stocks, bonds, or investment funds that
are unethical or morally ambiguous or downright
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
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
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
The Right Thing to Do!
THE MATH IS SIMPLE!
Do the Math Tour – Nov 2012
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.
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
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
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.
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 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,
Just before UUA Treasurer came out with a scathing
article in UU World against divestment and in favor,
instead of shareholder advocacy
AIW Passed overwhelmingly but not without
controversy and major pushback from UUA officers
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
Booth at the General Assembly
Articles in UU World