Archive for the ‘divestment’ Tag

Council Urges Church to Sell Fossil Fuel Holdings

Council Urges Church to Sell Fossil Fuel Holdings

Posted on: August 11, 2015 – 15:53 by Kevin Cox

Commissioners of the 42nd General Council are urging the United Church to sell its $8.7 million holdings in fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy co-operatives.

The Bakeapple (Yellow) Commission, one of three decision-making bodies of the Council, heard spirited arguments on both sides of the issue before passing a proposal to “encourage the United Church of Canada Foundation and direct the Executive of the General Council to take active steps to sell their holdings in the 200 largest fossil fuel companies.”

The motion also calls for the reinvestment of the funds into renewable energy.

The commission also called for the United Church pension board to review the extent and rationale for its fossil fuel investments and determine if its holdings “align with the Christian imperative of seeking justice, resisting evil, and living with respect in Creation.”

According to background material on the motion, the United Church of Canada Foundation holds $2.8 million in fossil fuel investments or 5 percent of the portfolio. The Treasury has $5.9 million in fossil fuel stocks or 4.7% of that portfolio.

Several other faith groups have made moves to divest from fossil fuel companies because of the industry’s contribution to climate change.

Jim Hannah of British Columbia Conference said the church needs to speak out about the role of the fossil fuel industry in climate change. “This is about the survival of this planet. This is about the survival of this species. For my grandchildren’s sake I want to do everything I can,” he said. “It’s going to cost us money, it’s going to cost us jobs. We’re going to have to change how we live in this world. We have to do this.”

Erik Mathiesen, the United Church’s Chief Financial Officer, said a lot of research and lobbying is being done by groups in the church on issues such as responsible investing and climate change. “The concern is that commissioners may not have all the information about everything underway,” he said.

Several commissioners said the church should hold onto its shares and use them to influence the policies of fossil fuel companies. David Pollard of Alberta and Northwest Conference said some of the large companies are doing valuable research and development work. He suggested that the church should be affirming companies that are environmentally responsible.

But Manitou Conference youth commissioner Aidan Legault said that the church’s voice hasn’t been heard at the corporate table. “Just being at the table, we aren’t making a difference. The way we can make a difference as a church and say we are not going to stand for any irresponsible environmental management by these companies is by divesting,” Legault said. “We can do it by taking our own money and saying we are going to put it elsewhere.”

Hanna Strong of Montreal and Ottawa Conference said the church would have more say if it held onto its stake. She also urged commissioners not to demonize the people who work in the petroleum industry.

“People work in this industry. In the church I have a very difficult time walking up to someone saying we have divested and you don’t have a job,” Strong said.

“It’s all great to be for the environment but there are humans on the other side of these 200 companies.”

Fossil Fuel Divestment

February 13 / 14 has been designated as “Global Divestment Day(s).

From a blockade at the International Petroleum Conference in London to hundreds of people dumping their dirty banks on the same day in Australia, the photos and videos are already pouring in from our friends on the other side of the globe. Click here to see (and share!) some of today’s early photos on Facebook:

Today people are demonstrating that there are thousands of people around the world who know that fossil fuel divestment is both the smart thing to do and the right thing — and those people are willing to take action in their own communities. We know that if it’s wrong to wreck the climate, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.

Earlier this week, the fossil fuel industry launched a concerted counter-attack on the divestment movement, only to have their efforts fall rather flat. This (perhaps apocryphal) Gandhi quote feels more apt than ever: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Let’s show the world that we’ve got the guts, the heart, and the numbers to win against the power and money of the industry driving the climate crisis.

Let’s make fossil fuels history.

For information on what one courageous church community is doing, check out:

Religious leaders should divest from fossil fuels, says UN climate chief

Weathercock near Waupoos, Ontario

Weathercock near Waupoos, Ontario

UN climate chief urges faith groups to tell followers not to invest in fossil fuel companies

Published inthe, Wednesday 7 May 2014 13.23 BST

Religious leaders should pull their money out of investments in fossil fuel companies and encourage their followers to do the same, according to the UN’s climate chief.

Christiana Figueres, who is speaking at St Pauls Cathedral on Wednesday night, urges faith groups to “find their voice” and “set their moral compass” on climate change, in an article published in the Guardian.

Students and other groups have been campaigning in the US and Europe to encourage universities, local authorities and investors to divest from fossil fuel interests. On Monday, Stanford University became the latest high profile institution to do so, saying it would no longer make investments of its $18bn (£11bn) endowment fund in coal mining companies.

Politicians, businesses and civil society are also trying to build momentum for an international deal on climate change ahead of a key meeting of nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015. Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, is convening a meeting of world leaders in New York in September to push for progress towards the deal.

“There are a myriad of ways in which churches and mosques to synagogues and temples can assist towards an ambitious climate agreement,” said Figueres, citing the fossil fuel divestment campaign as a way they could assist efforts to reach a climate deal.

She highlights the Synod of the Church of England, which in February voted to review its investment policy on fossil fuels.

While the CoE is not yet looking at the sort of divestment from fossil fuel companies that the United Church of Christ has done in the US, its ethical investment advisory group has established a subgroup to take expert advice on climate change and investment.

Figueres, who is executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, warns that climate change will make many of the issues that religious groups campaign on, such as tackling hunger in poorer countries, harder.

“It is time for faith groups and religious institutions to find their voice and set their moral compass on one of the great humanitarian issues of our time. Overcoming poverty, caring for the sick and the infirm, feeding the hungry and a whole range of other faith-based concerns will only get harder in a climate challenged world,” she said.

The divestment campaign was “gaining ground”, she said, echoing a report last year which said the campaign was growing faster than any previous divestment campaign, such as those against apartheid in South Africa and tobacco companies.


Trinity St.-Paul’s United Church in Toronto adopted a resolution on divestment from fossil fuels on February, 2014. Information at:

Climate justice – divestment (3)

Movement to Divest from Fossil Fuels Gaining Strength

Two recent events signify how the movement to withdraw investments from fossil fuels is gaining momentum. On Sunday February 23, the congregation at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church in Toronto voted unanimously to ensure that none of its funds are invested in any of the world’s 200 largest fossil fuel corporations. Then, on Saturday March 1, Greening Sacred Spaces and the Green Awakening Network hosted a forum on Divestment or What? Economic Tools for Creation Advocacy in a Time of Crisis.

As Jeanne Moffat, speaking on behalf of the Climate Justice Group at Trinity-St. Paul’s, said “For too many years governments have not dealt decisively with the impending climate chaos, largely to the peril of low- income countries and low-lying regions of the world.” While this is the first example in Canada of a church deciding to divest, the climate advocacy group lists 19 religious institutions, nine post-secondary institutions, 22 municipalities, 2 counties, and 17 foundations in the U.S. as having made this commitment.

Fossil Free

Anglican Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu sums up the moral case for divestment by citing the key role it played in South Africa: “The divestment movement played a key role in helping liberate South Africa [from apartheid]. The corporations understood the logic of money even when they weren’t swayed by the dictates of morality. Climate change is a deeply moral issue too. Here in Africa we see the dreadful suffering of people from worsening drought, from rising food prices, from floods even though they’ve done nothing to cause the situation. Once again, we can join together as a world and put pressure where it counts.”

For more information please see Trinity-St. Paul’s Fossil Fuel Divestment Primer.
For more information please contact: 
John Dillon
Ecological Economy Program Coordinator 
416-463-5312 x 231
Toll-free: 1-877-403-8933


Posted March 10, 2014 by allanbaker in Christian Faith, Environment

Tagged with , , ,

Climate justice – divestment (2)

Justice, Peace and the integrity of Creation are values that Christians hold dear to their hearts, in Canada and around the world. The World Council of Churches website: states that;

The Bible teaches the wholeness of creation and calls human beings to take care of the garden of Eden (Gen 2:15). The God of the Bible is a God of justice who protects, loves and cares for the most vulnerable among his creatures.”


So, how well are we caring for the Earth?

Carbon tax needed

Carbon tax needed

How are Christians, for example, demonstrating responsible ecological practices – especially when their financial assets are invested in the fossil fuel industries? After all, the use of fossil fuels, and the carbon dioxide that results, is a cause of climate change; ocean acidification, and God’s people becoming climate refugees.

Climate change, and an example of a practical measure to deal with it, was the topic of an important forum on divestment, held at Beach United Church on Saturday, March 1, 2014. The forum was hosted by The Green Awakening Network and Greening Sacred Spaces. Christine Boyle, one of the presenters, labeled climate change as “the greatest theological challenge of our time.

An important point was made that individual choices are insufficient to counteract climate change. We need institutions to act as well. Changing light bulbs, while it does make a contribution, is insufficient.

When powerful organizations and corporations simply support the status quo, and the continued extraction of fossil fuels, Christians can withdraw support through divestment. We can take our money elsewhere. Our financial resources can be invested in conservation – which saves energy – or to re-investment in alternative sources of energy.

Divestment from the fossil fuel industry – before the “carbon bubble” bursts – is an ethical option for those who wish to care for creation.

Some of the websites that have information on the divestment movement are:

Climate justice – divestment

Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church Votes to Divest

from Fossil Fuel Companies

TORONTO, ON, 24 February 2014 :

The congregation of Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church voted unanimously Sunday at its Annual General Meeting to lend its voice to the fast-growing divestment movement, and to ensure that its own funds are not invested in any of the world’s 200 largest fossil fuel companies. The vote confirms a long-standing commitment to climate justice, which has been a key priority of the congregation for the past decade.

Carbon tax needed

Carbon tax needed

Jeanne Moffat, a member and representative of the Climate Justice Group of Trinity St. Paul’s, sees the decision as deliberately aligning with Christianity’s core teachings of justice. “For too many years governments have not dealt decisively with the impending climate chaos, largely to the peril of low- income countries and low-lying regions of the world. Low-income countries are neither responsible for the heat-trapping gases that will cause more droughts and floods, nor do they have the resources to adapt. Not to act in the face of the realities of climate change is to violate our call to justice. We call upon all people of faith to join us in this movement.

The timing of the decision coincides with other churches’ and institutions’ decisions to stop profiting from the companies whose business model includes plundering the planet. The decision represents clear dissatisfaction with the inadequate climate policies of the world’s wealthiest countries.

We have been working on climate justice for well over a decade as individuals and as a congregation,” says Moffat, who proposed the motion on behalf of the Climate Justice Group. “We have been part of a range of campaigns to call for climate action at the scale and pace needed to avert climate catastrophe. We see this as a necessary, logical step in the mass movement away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy and energy efficiency. This movement is growing and growing fast. We invite our sibling congregations across Canada to support this movement away from the fossil fuels that threaten all of Creation.”

Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church is a congregation of the United Church of Canada. Trinity-St. Paul’s seeks to live the love, justice and freedom of Jesus Christ. Worship of God, nurture of one another, and the struggle to be faithful to God’s call lie at the centre of its community and its outreach.

The United Church of Canada is the largest Protestant denomination in Canada with over 3,000 congregations and other ministries across the country.

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For more information:

Contact: Jeanne Moffat, 416-654-7434