First Parish Milton UU — Divestiture of Fossil Fuels

The Trustees of Parish Funds joined a growing movement this November when it voted to divest from direct investments in fossil fuels. All three investment managers have been instructed to re-direct $252K, or approximately 4% of the church’s endowment that is held today in fossil fuel investments. The Trustees’ decision sends a strong moral message to the parish and Milton community regarding the church’s commitment to fight climate change.

The National Climate Assessment, recently released by The White House on the heels of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, warns of severe environmental and economic  consequences by 2030 if significant progress in not made to curb greenhouse gases and climate change. There is little doubt that climate change is occurring rapidly and with ever greater societal cost and damage to the natural world.

Four of The 7 Principles of Unitarian Universalism speak directly to the global challenge of climate change:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Scientists have long known that the third-world poor and marginalized people everywhere will suffer disproportionally the most severe effects of climate change. As Unitarian Universalists, we are called by our principles to act where able to mitigate the risks of climate change.

One of history’s most successful economic campaigns occurred in South Africa during the 1980s and 90s when divestiture from corporations doing business there helped to end Apartheid. A similar movement is occurring today with respect to fossil fuel companies that extract and sell coal, oil and natural gas. Campus movements across the United States are pressing college and university endowments, foundations and other large investors to sell their investment holdings in fossil fuel companies.

Transitioning to a carbon-free economy is an unprecedented global challenge that requires bold and decisive leadership at all levels of society including First Parish. We are not in a business-as-usual moment of human history; real change is needed to avoid leaving a much-diminished world to our children and grandchildren.