The following statement on fossil fuel divestment was adopted on June 15, 2017.

The Board of Directors of the Diocese of the Diocese of Olympia has been considering whether or not to adopt divestment in fossil fuel companies as a strategy to combat climate change.  Our consideration of this matter takes into account:

  • The vote of the Convention of the Diocese of Olympia in 2013 adopting a resolution requesting that the Board of Directors of the Diocese of Olympia “implement a plan to divest within five years from direct ownership of public equities and corporate bonds of the world’s leading 200 fossil fuel companies as identified by the Carbon Tracker Initiative” and “adopt a policy to refrain from this time forward from direct ownership of public equities and corporate bonds” of said companies.
  • The passage of Resolution C045 by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2015 which calls upon the Investment Committee of Executive Council, the Episcopal Church Endowment Fund and the Episcopal Church Foundation to “divest from fossil fuel companies and reinvest in clean renewable energy in a fiscally responsible manner,” and “calls all dioceses and parishes of the Episcopal Church to engage the topic of divestment from fossil fuels and reinvestment in clean energy within the coming year.”
  • A poll conducted in January and February of 2014 of congregations with DIF investments in which:
    • 8 congregations (27%) favored divestment
    • 19 congregations (63%) opposed divestment
    • 3 congregations did not respond to the poll
  • A poll conducted in September and October of 2014 in which
    • 17 congregations favored divestment (57%)
    • 9 congregations opposed divestment (30%)
    • 3 congregations were split on the issue
    • 1 congregation did not respond

At our November 2016 meeting the Board of Directors engaged in conversation with members of the Bishop’s Committee for the Environment.

At our December 2016 meeting the members of the Board of Directors engaged in a follow-up discussion during which we realized we do not have a consensus among ourselves in favor of fulfilling the request made to us by the vote of the 2013 Convention.

At the end of this discussion we did come to agreement on the following points:

  • We are not in favor of re-polling congregations
  • We will seek input from the Diocesan Investment Fund (DIF) Committee.
  • The Board of Directors will ask the DIF Committee to undertake a carbon footprint analysis of DIF investments.
  • The DIF Committee regularly review the equities market for stocks of alternative fuel companies who meet the investment criteria and policies set by the DIF.

In the course of our discussion we acknowledged that any request of others to take action for the environment requires us to take personal responsibility for our actions.  We therefore ask ourselves and individual members and congregations of the Diocese of Olympia to take responsible measures to evaluate and make decisions about investment portfolios, to undertake carbon footprint analyses, to consider investments in carbon offsets, and to implement energy-saving measures in our church buildings and homes and in our transportation practices.

Fossil-free investing
For knowledge of what the Episcopal Church is already doing in this regard congregations, institutions, and individuals of the Diocese of Olympia may go to the website of The Church Investment Group, a non -profit 503 (c) (3) organization “which helps Episcopal organizations to join in shared faith and values while realizing the benefits of scale in investing.”   Congregations and Institutions of the Diocese of Olympia have this resource as an alternative to investing in the DIF.  One of the funds they offer is a fossil-fuel free fund.

Carbon Footprint Analysis
Individuals, households, and congregations and institutions of the Diocese of Olympia may undertake a carbon footprint analysis of our energy use using the EPA’s household carbon footprint calculator.

Carbon Offset Investment
Once a carbon footprint analysis is complete, we encourage members and congregations of the Diocese of Olympia to invest in carbon offsets through the carbon offset partnership the Diocese of Olympia has with the Diocese of the Southern Philippines. Carbon offsets through this partnership support the propagation and planting of trees to supply reforestation projects which benefit the rural economy.

Energy Savings Measures
We take personal responsibility for any measures we can reasonably take to reduce our energy use.  These measures include energy audits of our homes and businesses and church buildings, changing to more energy-efficient appliances and lighting, and any reductions we can make in our use of fossil fuels for transportation purposes.

 

2 thoughts on “A Statement on Fossil Fuel Divestment from the Diocesan Board of Directors

  • August 16, 2017 at 2:54 pm
    Permalink

    We appreciate the Board’s statement about its position on divestment from fossil fuels in the investments that we hold collectively in the Diocesan Investment Fund (DIF). The ongoing conversation about divestment began in mid-2013 with the request from three congregations and the Bishop’s Committee for the Environment for the Board to divest of the only two fossil fuel company stocks that it held in the DIF: Chevron and Exxon Mobil, which comprised about 4% of the total holdings. At the Board’s request, we took the issue to the 2013 Diocesan Convention, which passed the motion calling for divestment.
    The purpose of divestment is to make a statement to the larger community of which we are a part about the need to urgently move off of the fossil fuel energy system, which is the major driver in accelerating climate disruption, which threatens lives around the world. This is a justice issue that we are called to take a lead on. The 2013 Diocesan Convention responded to that challenge in passing the resolution supporting divestment; so did the 2015 General Convention of the Episcopal Church. However, the Board of Directors continues to defer any such stand, pointing to individual actions or parish level actions that we might take.
    The Board has suggested that we move our funds to a fossil free fund with the Church Investment Group. However, that fund has a minimum investment of $500,000, way above the ability of many parishes to access it.
    We agree that the challenge of climate change warrants all the individual actions we can undertake, but, on a broader level, our energy system needs changing to one that does not burn fossil fuels. We cannot accomplish such a change through individual action; it requires our collective voice and action. And the church, of all of society’s institutions, is especially called to prophetically speak truth to power. We have a moral obligation as Christians who care about the people and species on the margins, who are disproportionately affected by climate disruption. These are God’s people and creation! Divesting our DIF from fossil fuels is one way to speak out on this very urgent need.

    Sharon Wilson and Van Bobbitt

    Reply
  • August 25, 2017 at 1:17 pm
    Permalink

    Let us not cut off our nose to spite our face! BP, Shell, Chevron and Exxon Mobil provide 57% of all the funds expended on carbon-less energy research. I found through investment research that BP spends 25% of its gross income on research. We have come a long way from the horse and buggy, and all the environmental issues that were created by that carbon fueled system. It is my perception that no matter how you generate energy, there is a special interest group that is against it. For example; The Audubon society is against windmills, the fisherman against hydro electric, solar panels that take 5 years to recover the energy that it took to make them. CFL lights that contaminate the landfills with mercury. It is a long list and there is no perfect solution other than using less energy. I personally converted all my lights in my house and shop to LEDs, which reduced my energy bill by 13%. There is the delusion of people who drive electric cars that they are not polluting, but the majority of the energy used to charge the batteries is generated by fossil fuels. Oh by the way has anybody considered the issue of disposing the toxic batteries after they have reached the end of useful life?
    I guess what I am trying to say is, instead of attacking the fossil fuels, spend that energy on research of alternate fuel sources such as hydrogen and thier low environmental impact. We should also look at the BIG picture when selecting our energy sources. There are no free lunches, somebody has to pay!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *