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Passed: fossil fuel divestment AIW

By Sonja L. Cohen

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General Assembly delegates voted overwhelmingly Sunday afternoon to adopt the Action of Immediate Witness “Consider Divestment from the Fossil Fuel Industry,” which calls for delegates to “begin a denomination-wide conversation within their congregations about divesting from fossil fuels or exercising shareholder influence.”

During debate on the plenary floor, those at the “con” microphone primarily focused on the probable lack of impact that the UUA divesting from fossil fuels would have, and on the idea that it should have been a Congregational Study/Action Issue rather than an Action of Immediate Witness.

Those at the “pro” mic emphasized the moral obligation of UUs as a people of faith to consider the environmental impact of investing in fossil fuels, and also noted that the language of the AIW had been framed specifically as a conversation about both divestment and shareholder advocacy as methods for socially responsible investing.

The topic of divestment and shareholder advocacy has come up several times during the week and was discussed Thursday at a panel discussion called “The Climate Change Challenge to Faithful Investing.” The original intention behind the divestment AIW was to call for the UUA to divest from fossil fuels, but because only a business resolution could call for divestment, legal counsel advised it be redrafted as an AIW. During a miniassembly on Saturday, language was added regarding the possibility of exercising shareholder influence.

The divestment AIW was one of three proposed AIWs delegates chose yesterday from a list of six to add to Sunday’s agenda. Drafts of the three proposed Actions of Immediate Witness are available in today’s CSW Alert! (PDF).

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