Synod’s commitment to addressing climate change recognised

Synod’s commitment to addressing climate change recognised

The Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of New South Wales and the ACT, was recently featured in the Divest Invest Faith-Based Guide due to the Synod’s commitment and action to ensure a sustainable climate for future generations.

The guide was released in conjunction with the webinar both distributed in mid-December by the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN) and the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC).

The guide looks at how and why organisations are choosing to divest from fossil fuels and invest in sustainable energy options.

A year on from the ‘historic’ Paris Climate agreement, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon finds the growing number of organisations embracing the divest-invest culture, encouraging.

“It’s clear the transition to a clean energy future is inevitable, beneficial and well underway, and that investors have a key role to play,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The main goal of the Paris agreement is to reduce the greenhouse emissions to limit the global temperature rise to just 1.5°C to ensure the earth’s sustainability.

Arabella Advisors released an analysis last month that found across 76 countries, 688 institutions and 58,399 individuals have committed to divest from fossil fuels.

This includes faith-based organisations like the Uniting Church and makes up 23% of institutions that have committed to some sort of divestment.

President of Uniting Church in Australia, Stuart McMillian, said that the church has had a long-standing commitment to protecting the environment.

“Christians and all people of faith are called to respect the sacredness of the earth. It is this understanding that shapes our unique contribution to addressing climate change,” said Mr McMillian.

As highlighted in the Divest Invest Faith-Based Guide, the NSW and ACT Synod Standing Committee agreed to:

  • divest from all stocks that have a greater than 40 per cent net exposure from direct fossil fuel extraction by 19 October 2014 (this has been completed)
  • divest from all stocks that have a greater than 25 per cent net exposure from direct fossil fuel extraction by 19 October 2015 (this has been completed)
  • divest from all stocks that have a greater than 10 per cent net exposure from direct fossil fuel extraction by 19 October 2016 (yet to be completed, but portfolios currently have no holdings that would need divestment in phase 3).11

You can read the full report here.

Melissa Stewart


1 thought on “Synod’s commitment to addressing climate change recognised”

  1. Warren Bird, ED Treasury & Investment Services

    I’d just like to add to this article a mention of the role that Uniting Financial Services played in the production of the DivestInvest document. Our Head of Ethical Investments, Matthew Moore, helped with the wording of the sections that discuss the UCA’s approach and I participated in the webinar that launched the document.

    I’m pleased to confirm that fossil fuel divestment has well and truly been completed across the investment portfolios that UFS manages and oversights. The article quotes the 3 stage process on page 4 using words that were around over a year ago, ahead of the completion of stage 3 in October last year. These are quoted in the actual divest-invest document in a section that gives examples of how different organisations approached the divestment process.

    However, a more contemporary picture is found in the full case study on page 26, which was written by us at Uniting Financial Services to give the current picture. Not being invested in fossil fuel extracting businesses is now embedded in the wording of the latest Ethical and ESG Investment Policy approved at June 2016 Synod Standing Committee. The main difference is that, whereas the phased process originally pursued had a 10% materiality measure as the final step, we now follow the stricter 5% measure that applies to all activities that are screened out under the policy.

    You can find a link to the Policy at the UFS website here:

    The Church was an early mover in this field and the producers of the DivestInvest guide were therefore keen to have the UCA featured in this document, which provides a guide for other organisations examining and wishing to take action on this issue.

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