2015 Divestment Resolution

First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee

Resolution in Support of Divestment from Fossil Fuel Companies

(approved by the Board of Trustees on April 21, 2015)

WHEREAS, Unitarian Universalist congregations covenant by our Second and Seventh Principles to affirm and promote justice, equity, and compassion in human relations and respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part; and

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

WHEREAS, the 2006 Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) General Assembly approved a Statement of Conscience on the Threat of Global Warming/Climate Change declaring “that we will not acquiesce to the ongoing degradation and destruction of life that human actions are leaving to our children and grandchildren”; and

WHEREAS, the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee (FUSM) has acted upon its commitment to the Earth and the interdependent web of existence through various projects, including its Green Sanctuary Certification, its Sustain Our Society project (solar panels, insulation, and education campaign), and its standing committee, the Earth Justice Ministry; and

WHEREAS, 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 the United States) have agreed represents a threshold beyond which there would be dangerous human-caused interference with the climate system; and

WHEREAS, 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; and

WHEREAS, 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 listed by the Carbon Tracker Initiative (CT200), which together control 26% of known reserves, in order to break the hold of fossil fuel corporations on markets and governments; and

WHEREAS, on March 26, 2013 the Board of Trustees of FUSM approved a Resolution in Support of Divestment from Fossil Fuel Companies (the 2013 FUSM Divestment Resolution); and

WHEREAS, due in large part to the efforts of members of FUSM’s Earth Justice Ministry, in 2014 the UUA General Assembly approved a Business Resolution on Fossil Fuel Divestment (the 2014 UUA Divestment Resolution); and

WHEREAS, as a result, the Board of Trustees of FUSM by this resolution desires to revise and restate the 2013 FUSM Divestment Resolution to bring it into alignment with the 2014 UUA Divestment Resolution.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 2013 FUSM Divestment Resolution is replaced in its entirety by the following provisions:

  1. FUSM will not make any new direct or indirect investments in CT200 fossil fuel companies, except as provided in clauses 2 and 3, below;
  2. FUSM may maintain its current investments and make new investments in the UUA’s Common Endowment Fund (UUCEF), unless and until it has been determined that the UUA is not satisfactorily fulfilling the terms of the 2014 UUA Business Resolution regarding divestment by the UUCEF of holdings in CT200 companies within five years, at which time FUSM’s Earth Justice Ministry and the Finance Committee will be asked to make a joint proposal to the Board of Trustees as to what, if any, action should be taken by FUSM;
  3. FUSM may purchase and hold minimal shares of CT200 companies necessary to permit shareholder activism in support of environmental justice, the transition to clean and renewable energy or other activities approved by the Board of Trustees;
  4. FUSM encourages other Unitarian Universalist congregations and Unitarian Universalists to review their congregational and personal investments with a view to taking action to end climate change, such as public divestment of their holdings in fossil fuel companies, supporting shareholder activism designed to end use of fossil fuels, and investment in renewable energy and conversation.