Fossil Free UMC Legislation

Last year, the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference voted to study fossil fuel divestment. This year, the Pacific Northwest Conference is considering sending fossil fuel screening legislation to General Conference 2016. 10 annual conferences, along with the General Board of Global Ministries, have already affirmed petitions calling the denomination to add fossil fuels to its socially responsible investing guidelines.

Here are the petitions we will consider in PNW:

Petition #GC-6 – Avoid Investment in the Production of Petroleum, Coal and Natural Gas

Resolved that the PNWAC submit the following petition to the 2016 General Conference:

Be it resolved that the Book of Discipline ¶ 717 be amended as follows:
It shall be the policy of The United Methodist Church that all general boards and agencies, including the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, and all administrative agencies and institutions, including hospitals, homes, educational institutions, annual conferences, foundations, and local churches, shall, in the investment of money, make a conscious effort to invest in institutions, companies, corporations, or funds whose practices are consistent with the goals outlined in the Social Principles; and shall endeavor to avoid investments that appear likely, directly or indirectly, to support racial discrimination, violation of human rights, sweatshop or forced labor, gambling, or the production of petroleum, coal, natural gas, nuclear armaments, alcoholic beverages or tobacco, or companies dealing in pornography. The boards and agencies are to give careful consideration to shareholder advocacy, including advocacy of corporate disinvestment.

Rationale: United Methodists serve on the front lines of extreme weather events that will increase in frequency and severity with climate change. Limiting climate change requires that most fossil fuel reserves stay underground. Continued investment in fossil fuels undermines The United Methodist Church’s ministries with young people and vulnerable people.

General Church Budget Implications: None
Global Implications: Yes

Petition #GC-7 – Do Not Invest in Petroleum, Coal or Natural Gas

Resolved that the PNWAC submit the following petition to the 2016 General Conference:

Be it resolved that the Book of Resolutions section 4071, Socially Responsible Investing Strategies, 1. Portfolio screening, be amended as follows:

Socially Responsible Investing Strategies
The Church shall pursue its investment policy goals through widely practiced socially responsible investing tools such as:

1. Portfolio screening
Based on long-standing United Methodist values, the Church does not invest in companies deriving significant revenue (usually 10 percent or more) from:
alcoholic beverages
tobacco products;
gambling equipment or enterprises;
pornography;
operating or managing prison facilities;
the production of petroleum, coal, or natural gas;
antipersonnel weapons, armaments, ammunition, or weapons-related systems provided for commercial and private markets and nuclear weapons.

Rationale: United Methodists serve on the front lines of extreme weather events that will increase in frequency and severity with climate change. Limiting climate change requires that most fossil fuel reserves stay underground. Continued investment in fossil fuels undermines The United Methodist Church’s ministries with young people and vulnerable people.

General Church Budget Implications: None
Global Implications: Yes

Petition #GC-8 – Create Petroleum and Natural Gas Investment Screens

Resolved that the PNWAC submit the following petition to the 2016 General Conference:

Whereas, the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (GBOPHB) manages more than $21 billion in assets on behalf of United Methodist clergy, staff, agencies, churches, and other institutions; and

Whereas, The United Methodist Church has acknowledged the risks of of fossil fuel dependence for the last 35 years through its Energy Policy Statement in the Book of Resolutions section 1001; and

Whereas, the investment policy goals of The United Methodist Church as outlined in the Book of Resolutions section 4071 include investing in corporations, companies, institutions or funds making a positive contribution to the realization of the goals outlined in the Social Principles and the Book of Resolutions, and exclude investing in companies that violate church values; and

Whereas, the Social Principles state that climate change will bring “severe environmental, economic, and social implications,” which will “disproportionately affect individuals and nations least responsible for the emissions;” and

Whereas, the GBOPHB maintains significant holdings in petroleum and natural gas companies; and

Whereas, while shareholder advocacy can be effective in pressuring industries to change practices, it cannot change petroleum and natural gas companies’ core business model, which is to produce petroleum and natural gas; and

Whereas, fossil fuel companies are spending up to $600 billion each year to seek additional reserves while governments worldwide spend another $600 billion each year subsidizing their consumption; and
Whereas, the processes and byproducts related to the extraction of petroleum and natural gas are damaging to the health of people who work in these industries as well as those who live on or near extraction sites; and

Whereas, the extraction and burning of petroleum and natural gas exacerbates climate change; and

Whereas, limiting the warming of the earth to two-degrees Celsius, the internationally agreed upon limit for human survival, requires that the vast majority of the world’s fossil fuels be left in the ground; and
Whereas, avoiding the worst impacts of climate change urgently requires a transition to sustainable energy; and

Whereas, United Methodists live and serve on the front lines of disasters like Hurricane Sandy, Typhoon Haiyan, prolonged droughts, devastating floods, massive wildfires, and other extreme weather events, which will increase in frequency and severity with climate change; and

Whereas, continued investment in petroleum and natural gas companies undermines The United Methodist Church’s ministries to the most vulnerable among us—including those who are hungry, sick and/or living in poverty; and

Whereas, continued investment in petroleum and natural gas companies signals a grave disregard for the lives of young people;

Therefore, be it resolved that the General Conference of The United Methodist Church petitions the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of The United Methodist Church to adopt the following policy: Investments shall not knowingly be made in any company or entity whose core business activity involves the production of petroleum or natural gas. Core business activity refers to a company’s primary, or central focus of activity and is an essential element in the company’s economic success. A “core business” is one that accounts for 10% or more of a company’s revenue derived from the objectionable products and/or services.

Rationale: United Methodists serve on the front lines of extreme weather events that will increase in frequency and severity with climate change. Limiting climate change requires that most fossil fuel reserves stay underground. Continued investment in fossil fuels undermines The United Methodist Church’s ministries with young people and vulnerable people.

General Church Budget Implications: None
Global Implications: Yes

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