• Canadian Unitarians Vote to Divest

    At their AGM this weekend (May 15-17th), delegates to the Canadian Unitarian Council passed a Fossil Fuel Divestment motion!

    The full motion text is below.
    You can watch the AGM live online by clicking here, or find out more about the full AGM program here.

     

    PROPOSED ACTION: Socially Responsible Investment Action – Fossil Fuel
    Divestment
    PROPOSERS: Environment Monitoring Group
    CONTACT: Forrest Smith, environment@cuc.ca
    DATE: Updated March 2015

    Background:

    1. The climate crisis threatens Earth systems through warming, destabilization of the
    climate, sea level rise, and the acidification of the oceans, of which most of the burden
    has fallen and will fall on the poorest people in the world, who are least responsible for
    the crisis.

    2. In 2009, the CUC reaffirmed the Environmental Principles and Values of
    Canadian Unitarian Universalists and called upon the CUC and its members to provide
    leadership through collective and individual actions, and to be a strong voice and
    presence, in confronting environmental issues. Those principles and values included:
    a. Sustainability: Ensuring sustainability of the earth and all life upon it is our first
    responsibility to future generations and to all the species with which we share
    the planet.
    b. Ethical Action: We must adopt practices not only appropriate to our time and
    place but also that address needs of the future.
    c. Natural Capital: A sustainable economy must limit consumption to the “interest”
    produced by the natural capital upon which it depends.

    3. If all known fossil fuel reserves are burned, they will produce five times the amount of
    greenhouse gas emissions required to raise global temperatures beyond 2°C, the level
    that leaders of 167 countries, including Canada, have agreed represents a threshold
    beyond which there would be dangerous human-caused interference with the climate
    system.

    4. We have a moral responsibility to Earth, to all beings, and to future generations to do
    everything in our power to bring about a swift transition from fossil fuels to a
    sustainable energy economy.

    5. A global and growing movement is calling upon universities, pension funds, public
    entities, and religious institutions to divest their holdings in the 200 major fossil fuel
    companies ranked by the carbon content of their fossil fuel reserves as listed at
    FossilFreeIndexes.com which together control a significant portion of known reserves.

    6. The CUC adopted a 1997 Socially Responsible Investment Policy (see Appendix C)
    resolution requiring “the CUC — in investing the funds of the CUC — make all
    reasonable efforts to avoid the holding of securities issued by corporations and agencies
    involved in nuclear power, military weapons, tobacco, gambling and all corporations
    that persist in human rights violations or persist in non-sustainable environmental
    practices”.

    7. The CUC has already divested from the top Carbon Underground 200 securities.

    Therefore, in order to further fulfill the previously approved resolutions of 1997 and 2009, we
    propose the following actions:

    1. The CUC will continue a policy of not purchasing securities of Carbon Underground 200
    (latest edition) companies as investments; and

    2. The CUC will continue to invest an appropriate investment share in securities that will
    support a swift transition to a clean energy economy, such as renewable energy and
    energy-efficiency-related securities; and

    3. Notwithstanding the actions above:
    a. The CUC may acquire and retain investments in Carbon Underground 200
    companies, provided it engages in shareholder activism that seeks
    environmental justice or transition to clean and renewable energy;
    b. The CUC may purchase the minimal shares of Carbon Underground 200
    companies necessary to permit introduction of shareholder resolutions seeking
    environmental justice or transition to clean and renewable energy; and
    c. The CUC shall not take any action inconsistent with its fiduciary duty or that is
    incompatible with the principles of sound investment.

    4. That the Treasurer of the CUC report to each CUC Annual General Meeting from 2016
    through 2020 on CUC’s progress on the above actions; and

    5. That the CUC encourage member congregations and Unitarian Universalists generally,
    to review their congregational and personal investments with a view to taking action to
    similarly divest from Carbon Underground 200 companies and to mitigate climate
    change via supporting shareholder activism designed to end use of fossil fuels, and
    investment in renewable energy and conservation; and

    6. The CUC Environmental Monitoring Group will survey member congregations in 2016
    and again in 2017, tabulate the results and communicate to CUC Members reported
    progress.

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