The Unitarian Universalist Common Endowment Fund (UUCEF) and Climate Change
The Socially Responsible Investment Committee (“SRIC”) of the UUA has endorsed the fossil fuel divestment resolution on the ballot at the 2014 General Assembly. If passed, this resolution will allow the UUCEF to continue a process begun years ago of reducing climate-related risk to our investments, while using our power as investors to change corporate behavior. Here are some of the steps in that strategy.
Choosing our investments
- We have been divested from coal for years (well before Stanford’s recent announcement). A few shares are held for advocacy purposes.
- In collaboration with research firm Sustainalytics, we apply especially stringent social and environmental screens to our direct energy holdings, ensuring that we invest only in best-in-class energy companies.
- When we invest in pooled vehicles, we question managers about their approach to climate risk and carbon valuation, and prefer those with a climate-friendly approach.
- As a result, compared to benchmarks, the UUCEF is already underweight in energy, with only 2.9% of the fund currently in companies on the Carbon Tracker 200 list of the largest fossil fuel companies by reserves. This number has declined over the last year, and compares to about 9% for market benchmarks.
Advocating for change
- We are a member of the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a group of investors with over $11 trillion in assets that is advocating for disclosure and reduction of carbon emissions at the world’s largest companies. We “fight above our weight”: this year, we were in the leadership group for 7% of shareholder resolutions filed by INCR, despite holding only a little over one one-thousandth of one percent of the assets of the group.
- We are among the original signatories to the Carbon Asset Risk letter, coordinated by environmental advocacy groups CERES and INCR, which asks the world’s largest oil and gas, coal and electric power companies to assess business risks from future carbon regulation.
- We have been instrumental in getting companies to address the problem of natural gas flaring. After an engagement with us this year, Oasis Petroleum, one of the country’s largest producers of oil, agreed to minimize natural gas flaring from oil wells by connecting over 90% to gas capturing infrastructure and to report the results in their SEC filings.
To learn more about the UUCEF and investment responses to climate change at the 2014 General Assembly, attend the SRIC’s panel, “Divestment and Beyond: Effecting Social Change via Investments”, to be held on Thursday, at 10:15am in the RICC Ballroom E.