Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Unitarians vote to divest from fossil fuel companies

BOSTON – In a media release, delegates at the 2014 General Assembly (GA) of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) meeting in Providence, RI, today passed a resolution calling for divestment from fossil fuel companies in the UUA Common Endowment Fund (UUCEF).

The resolution requires the UUA to:
  • Cease purchasing securities of CT200 companies as UUCEF investments immediately.
  • Continue to divest its UUCEF holdings of directly held securities of CT 200 companies, reaching full divestment of these companies within five years.
  • Work with its current and prospective pooled-asset managers for the purpose of creating more fossil fuel-free investment opportunities, with the objective of full divestment of UUCEF indirect holdings in CT200 companies within five years.
  • Invest an appropriate share of UUCEF holdings in securities that will support a swift transition to a clean energy economy, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency-related securities.
  • Report, via the UUA President and the Treasurer, to each General Assembly from 2015 through 2019 on our Association’s progress on the above resolutions.

Following the vote, UUA President Peter Morales said, “The UUA has a long-standing history of fighting for our environment. I am proud that we are going to put our money where our values are on this issue.”

The resolution was carefully crafted by a committed group of activists known as UU Divest (formally, Unitarian Universalists for Fossil Fuel Divestment and Sustainable Reinvestment) in collaboration with members of the UUA Committee on Socially Responsible Investing and the UUA Investment Committee. The UUA Board of Trustees endorsed the resolution as it was originally written at their meeting on April 13.

Terry Wiggins, a leader in the divestment effort, stated, “We, private citizens and the private and nonprofit sectors, need to take matters into our own hands, and use every strategy we can to convince the government and public at large of our planetary emergency, and that we must act now.”

The resolution allows the UUA to retain investments in fossil fuel companies with which it is engaged in shareholder actions seeking environmental justice. David Stewart, co-chair of the UUA’s Socially Responsible Investing Committee, stated, “We are encouraged that the UUA can continue its longstanding successes in shareholder advocacy while helping to lead the divestment movement with the approval of today’s fossil fuel divestment resolution. We believe strongly that any effort that can change the current trajectory of climate change is a welcome improvement.”

The UUA has a long history of shareholder activism on a variety of issues including environmental justice. Most recently, the UUA has worked to increase transparency in the executive office of Chevron Corp. and supported new Environmental Protection Agency limits on carbon emissions for new and existing power plants.

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