Presbyterians demur on divestment from fossil fuels

Source: Religion News Service

BY Emily McFarlan Miller

(RNS) — For the third time in a row, the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s General Assembly decided against divesting from companies invested in fossil fuels.

Instead, delegates passed a resolution at the biennial meeting of the PCUSA last week in St. Louis asking the denomination’s Mission Responsibility Through Investment committee to continue engagement with corporations that produce or heavily consume fossil fuels.

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Friends of Fossil Free PCUSA symbolically portray deaths over the next two years in protest of General Assembly 223 voting to not immediately divest from the fossil fuel industry on June 22, 2018, in St. Louis. Photo by Danny Bolin/PC(USA)

It was “the most powerful result that could come out of this assembly,” said Rob Fohr, the PCUSA’s director of faith-based investing and corporate engagement.

That’s because the resolution also included guidelines for measuring companies’ progress that could lead to selective divestment at the 2020 General Assembly. And the denomination recently joined a five-year initiative called Climate Action 100+ led by investors to pressure companies to cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve financial disclosures and governance related to climate change, Fohr said. That gives them clear goals to measure companies’ progress and more leverage as part of a coalition with almost $30 trillion in investments.

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