Divesting Your Congregation – Resource
Thanks to our friends at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church for putting together and sharing this great resource about their Fossil Fuel Divestment experience:
Welcome to the story of Trinity St. Paul’s United Church’s journey of divestment of our congregational funds from fossil fuels. We hope you’ll learn from our reflections on our story and our activities!
To put this resource together, we reflected on the challenges we faced, as well as the questions we asked ourselves and those we heard from others, as we moved towards divestment. Are any of these questions also YOUR questions? We’ve described the actions we took and the lessons we learned, with the hope that you can adapt our learnings to your own context.
Just click on your areas of interest to get started!
|We’re a small congregation. Can we do this?
Learn how TSP’s Climate Justice Group spread tasks among ourselves to ease the load.
|We’re committed to helping our congregation take a stand, but we’re not experts in divestment. How do we build the knowledge we need?
We share how we drew on numerous external resources to build our knowledge.
|How can we help our congregation understand the faith and justice rationales for divestment?
Explore TSP’s engagement of our broader congregational community to address climate justice.
|What is a realistic timeline for the divestment process? What do our Board and financial officers need to know?
Learn more about the key stages in TSP’s divestment and reinvestment process.
|The church across town has asked us for advice. How should we respond?What is our role in the global climate movement?||What are some other climate actions we can take as individuals? As a congregation?
Learn about other green initiatives at TSP.
See the original resource on the TSP website by clicking below.
Alternative Investments: Summary of Resources
Author: Walter Whiteley, Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church Climate Justice Group
Disclaimer: This document does not provide investment advice, and should not be taken as investment advice. It is prudent that individuals and institutions obtain advice from a qualified investment advisor or an investment manager before you make any investment. We are presenting a range of links and resources to follow up with your investment advisor.
Overview: Reinvestment has several layers:
- a) Investments that screen out fossil fuel companies (along with tobacco, weapons, gambling, … ).
- b) Positive investments that develop alternative energy sources and related energy infrastructure, as well as in sustainable, resilient infrastructure, and upgrades that save energy.
- c) Some of the alternatives below also focus in social capital: locally controlled, perhaps cooperative community development, as a positive way forward.
A quick summary of the steps to reinvest (for individuals and institutions)
- a) Do our best with what is available now http://riacanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014-Q2-RI-Funds-in-Canada-EN-FINAL.pdf
- b) Do your own investigation into holdings using mutual fund information available online
- c) Consider sending a letter to your current mutual fund. See this sample letter.
- d) Create a portfolio of individual stocks and bonds that reflect your values, on line or with the help of an advisor
- e) Use an advisor/ portfolio manager who will listen to what you want and create a low /no carbon portfolio for you.
- f) Use sector based ETFS or mutual funds to avoid the energy sector.
- g) Use the S&P/TSX Renewable Energy and Clean Technology Index to find companies that can help us transition to a low carbon economy tmxmoney.com/tmx_indices.php?section=tsx&index=%5ETXCT
General advice and information
- a) Sustainable Economist http://www.sustainableeconomist.comTimothy Nash’s website has power point presentation on the topic Divest and Reinvest (from the Convergence workshops last fall in Montreal).
- b) A number of links on how to find alternatives (US based): http://divestinvest.org/philanthropy/resources/
- c) A Canadian site which has guidance for individuals to move into socially responsible investment: http://www.ethiquette.ca/en/
- d) Extracting Fossil Fuels from your Portfolio: An Updated guide to Personal Divestment and Reinvestmentby 350.org, Green Century Capital Management and Trillium Asset Management
Available to institutions (Accredited Investors Only Institutions )
Green Chip http://greenchipfinancial.com
Alternative energy and Reduction of energy use (Global, with some Canadian content)
Contact John Cook (in Toronto)
Genus Capital Management http://genuscap.com
Has full suite of 5 fully fossil-free investment pools, including bonds, and global equity
Handles investments for some foundations and churches, and fee reductions for combined institutions. Contact TSP for information as a possible partner.
Investigating possible grouping of investments by individuals too meet minimum investment of $500,000, or teaming with larger manager to permit $50,000 investments, including RRSPs (in Vancouver)
Inhance Investments has a suite of SRI funds: http://www.iaclarington.com/en/products/inhance-sri-funds/inhance-sri-funds.aspx#
The Global SRI fund is fossil free and has 7.9% in alternative energy.
This is open to both individuals and institutions.
AGF Global Sustainable Growth Equity Fund is a new fund which is fossil free: http://www.agf.com/sustainableinvesting
The page includes a number of other links to reports related to Fossil Fuel Divestment, and positive investments.
CIBC Blue Heron funds have a strong set of screens, including being fossil free . Minimum amount is $100,000 and they may be open to individuals: http://www.cibcwg.com/web/blueheronadvisorygroup/home
4. Community Bonds
“How a community bond turns social capital into financial capital” by Elisa Birnbaum in Financial Post, Dec 22, 2014
The story demonstrates the power of everyday citizens who are supporting social enterprises when traditional methods fall short.
Related links here:
- a) http://socialinnovation.ca/sites/default/files/CommunityBondTrio-lo.pdf
- b) Centre for Social Innovation3% to 4.5%
- c) SolarShare 5 years at 5% , and
- d) ZooShare 7% for 7 Years
- a) Northern Solar Bonds
– Starting at 5% for 20 year bonds climbing to 12.75%
– 4.5% for 5 year bonds
- b) Oikocredit: Mennonite Savings and Credit Union provides GICs linked to Oikocredit:https://www.mscu.com/SIA/Oikocredit/
– The estimated return is 1.3%, and the principle is guaranteed under the Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario.
- c) Green Bonds (watch for Green Washing – what standards are there?).
- d) World Bank Green Bonds (How green?) http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/climatechange/brief/green-bonds-climate-finance Not clear who can invest, and at what rate(s).
- e) Ontario Global Green Bonds http://www.ofina.on.ca/greenbonds/issues.htm75% return
5. Publicly Traded Alternative Energy Companies in Canada.
There are some companies in Canada identified as working in the alternative energy sector over a period of years. This list is not comprehensive, or based on their current investment returns.
- a) TransAlta Renewables (projects in Canada, one in the US): http://www.transaltarenewables.com
- b) Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners (projects globally) https://www.brookfieldrenewable.com
- c) Algonquin Power (projects in Canada and the US): http://www.algonquinpower.com
- d) Northland Power (projects in Canada and Europe): http://www.northlandpower.ca/Default.aspx
There are many more such companies in the US and Europe.
For example see sites like http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/how-to-invest-in-renewables
- Investment Managers and Advisors
A full list of members of the Responsible Investment Organization: http://riacanada.ca
A few advisors who have extended experience with Socially Responsible Investments. All are working with some individuals and congregations engaged in divesting:
Sucheta Rajagopal Portfolio Manager, Jacob Securities Inc.
Email: email@example.com Tel: 416 866-8362
Tricia K. Spooner, Investment Advisor
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: (613) 239-2851
John Hastings, , RBC Dominion Securities Inc. https://profile.rbcwealthmanagement.com/john.hastings
Walter Traversy, CIBC Wood Gundy
Fossil Free Indexes:
Mission Based Investing:
Why should only the income returned from investments be used for our mission? Why not use all of our investment decisions to support the mission?
Link to Social Economy Center Presentation by Bill Young on Mission Related Investing:http://www.socialeconomycentre.ca/sites/default/files/MissionRelatedInvesting.pdf
OIKO Credit bonds (above) and Canadian Alternative Investment Cooperative (CAIC) http://www.caic.ca/apply.html are examples mission based investing used by some religious groups, including the national United Church of Canada`
Easy-as-Pie Reinvestment Option: from the Sustainable Economist:
(1) Global Equity 60% Inhance Global Equity SRI Class F-Series (CCM5013) Could choose Fossil-Free – see above)
(2) Government Bonds 30% iShares 1-10 Year Laddered Government Bond Index ETF (CLG)
(3) Impact Bonds 10% Oikocredit Global Impact GIC (see above)
On-line stories about individuals around the world divesting:
The Guardian is planning a global webinar on individual divestment: See article and sign up for webinar series
Our youth fellows have big dreams, and tons of skill
In January 2015, Fossil Free Faith launched a call for religious-or-spiritual youth concerned about climate change to be part of a fellowship program aimed amplifying young, faithful voices for climate justice.
We had an incredible group apply. And over the past 10 months, we’ve been making it happen. Here’s some of what the Fossil Free Faith Youth Fellows have been up to:
On May 24-26th, we gathered for an intensive weekend training at Bridge and Enrich in East-Vancouver. We shared stories, and shared food, and did training on climate science, economics, communications, social movements and theories of change.
Following the training, a number of fellows wrote blog posts for our friends at Faith & the Common Good/Greening Sacred Spaces.
Maisaloon Al-Ashkar: From the Heart
Talia Martz-Oberlander: Using the personal narrative to move climate justice forward
Leo Yu: The Pope, the Dutch and other Reflections
Sarah Beley: Bringing faith-based groups into the environmental dialogue
They also began mobilizing to build a stronger faith-based presence at the upcoming Jobs, Justice & Climate rally in Vancouver. They participated in 350 Vancouver planning meetings. And then hosted Calling on Faith Voices – a dialogue to mobilize faith communities around climate issues. On July 4th the fellows organized and hosted a hugely successful ‘Faith Hub’ at the Jobs, Justice & Climate rally. And FFF fellow Maisaloon was one of the rally’s keynote speakers.
The following day, our friends and collaborators hosted a Multifaith Climate Iftar, following the Jobs, Justice & Climate rally in Toronto.
Around the same time, Fossil Free Faith Coordinator Christine Boyle wrote Why the Pope has caught this non-Catholic’s Attention, before heading to Rome to represent Fossil Free Faith Canada at the Our Voices Emerging Leaders Multi-Faith Climate Convergence.
And the project gained some media attention. Including an article in the Vancouver Courier called Keeping the Fossil Free Faith. And a feature article in the Jewish Independant about Talia and her work for Climate Justice. As well as significant media coverage on the United Church of Canada’s national divestment decision, which Fossil Free Faith was involved in.
Our fellows kept doing their own organizing. Sarah hosted a public event called Conversations with Heart: Dialogue for Healthier Communities. Jason, Eduardo and others were part of launching EarthKeepers: Christians for Climate Justice at the 10th Ave Christian Alliance Church in Vancouver. Eduardo published “Dejó Huella el Nazareno”, a book of poetic and theological reflection on the gospel and creation (in Spanish), and traveled home to Costa Rica to launch it. And others have been doing less visible work, talking and listening and bearing witness to the need for faithful climate justice.
And they kept writing and speaking. Leo wrote two op-eds about faith and action: What our leaders aren’t telling you: Jesus was a radical social activist and Finding the courage to take action. Talia wrote This Year I’m Praying for a New Government for Ricochet Media. And Christine spoke as part of the Earth and Spirit Speaker Series at St. Anselm’s Anglican Church.
And we have officially launched the Faithful Voices Speakers Bureau. Because conversations about both faith and climate in Canada need some fresh voices. Interested in having one of them join a panel at an event or conference you are organizing? Or guest-preach in your congregation? Or contribute to your newsletter, magazine or blog? Contact us to make a request.
The pilot project of this youth network was supported by the Inspirit Foundation, and powered by Faith & the Common Good and Spirited Social Change. For more information email: christine (at) spiritedsocialchange (dot) org.
Messages to mobilize people of faith on climate change
Our Voices (a campaign of GreenFaith and the Conservation Foundation) commissioned the Climate Outreach & Information Network (COIN) to develop and test language around climate change that could mobilize activity across the world’s 5 main faith groups: Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim.
5 overall lessons
1. Be Cautious With Blame And Fear
2. Present Threats And Solutions In Terms Of Core Values
3. Promote Rewards Of Stronger Faith And Belonging
4. Create A Narrative Arc
5. Find Specific Language For Each Faith Within A Narrative Theme
It’s an incredibly valuable document for shaping messages around climate change within faith communities. Download the full resource HERE.
Why the Pope has caught this non Catholic’s attention
By Christine Boyle, originally published June 19th, 2015 in the National Observer.
I’m not Catholic. Despite, perhaps, the best efforts of my grandfather. But I have been following news about Pope Francis, if you’ll pardon the phrase, religiously.
This Pope has got my attention, and I am not the only one.
The latest reason why is Pope Francis’s recently released encyclical on climate justice, titled Laudato Si’ (“Praise Be to You” in Latin).
For years, climate change was an issue for scientists and environmentalists. For years they have been waving their arms in the air, with increasing frenzy, to get our attention. They told stories about the shrinking ice caps and the sad polar bears, and showed us graph after graph, red and blue lines moving dramatically upward.
Years passed, wars happened, politicians had scandals, celebrities had babies, and we all did our part by recycling. But rather than disappearing, climate change became a climate crisis.
As the crisis escalated, we began talking about it as an economic issue, spurred on by rising costs of failing infrastructure amid increasingly unpredictable weather, and the reality that the future those scientists talked about is happening all around us.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund weighed in. We started to talk about green consumerism, green capitalism, green lifestyles. And during the infrequent times that climate change has entered the political arena in Canada, the discussion has been framed around economics there too. We’ve debated whether we can afford to take action, and if so what action is most politically feasible and what time frame is most economically practical.
None of this has gotten us as far, or as fast, as we need. And if climate change was solely a scientific or economic issue in the past, it isn’t any longer. People are dying. And increasing numbers of lives and species are at stake.
Pope Francis’s encyclical is shifting that conversation by naming climate change as a justice issue. It echoes and magnifices what campus divestment groups and grassroots climate justice groups have been saying all along. And for Catholics and non-Catholics alike, climate justice has become a moral crisis.
Whether it’s politically convenient or not, climate change is happening right now. And the thing about a moral crisis is that no one gets to sit it out. We either act or we don’t, and both options are a choice. Both options reflect upon who we are as people, as institutions, as a country.
Up to now, many of us have stayed silent on climate change because we felt we didn’t adequately understand the science or the economics of it. Or because we are simply too busy, focused on other issues, or just trying to get by.
Many others have avoided getting involved out of fear of the political and economic change that addressing the climate crisis will require. A fear that is felt not just among those with power, but also among those without any, whose livelihoods feel unstable enough already.
Addressing climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time. And it’s going to require us to face these short-term fears in the service of solutions that bring about a much greater good. It will call us all be braver, stronger, more compassionate people than our current political and economic systems assume us capable of.
In paragraph 205, Laudato Si’ reads, “Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good.”
The Pope warns us that taking action doesn’t mean holding our breath for some future technological solution. Real policy solutions – massive public investment in clean energy, public transportation, improved community planning, and more – already exist.
And we can afford those necessary investments; the corporations, countries and people who have benefited the most from unrestricted pollution and a runaway wealth gap should be required to pitch in to fund the transition. And most of us can afford to pay a little bit more.
More than that, Laudato Si’ clearly outlines that taking action means consuming less, and sharing more. It means redefining the good life for us and for future generations. The great opportunity of a moral crisis is that we may emerge from it as better people, more generous communities, and a more stable society.
I’m not Catholic, but I consider myself a person of faith. I believe in the possibility of a better world. And this Pope has got my attention.
Christine Boyle is Program Director at Fossil Free Faith Canada. She will be traveling to the Vatican for the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and CIDSE conference on Climate, June 2-3, and will be writing about it at www.fossilfreefaith.ca.
Divestment 101 Webinars ONLINE
Divestment 101 Webinars ONLINE
FossilFreeFaith’s Divestment 101 Webinar Series for Canadian Faith Communities: April – May 2015