One reason we were able to maintain high energy and engagement through the divestment process was because our timeline was relatively short! In less than six months, we moved from a decision to pursue divestment to a unanimous congregational vote to divest. Several months after that, our Board of Trustees completed the divestment process, and turned their focus to re-investment.
Planning and education
|Early September 2013||Climate Justice Group (CJG) forms|
|Late October 2013||Decision to pursue divestment|
|November 2013-February 2014||CJG learns more about divestment, formulates motions, develops resources for the congregation, and hosts congregational discussions about divestment process|
Motion for divestment
|February 2014||TSP congregation unanimously passes two motions: one to direct TSP to divest of its holdings in fossil fuels and the second to ask the same thing of the national church at its meeting in August 2015. CJG members share the news widely in church and climate justice networks, and through media.|
|Our motion: That Trinity St. Paul’s United Church take active steps to divest of its holdings in the 200 largest fossil fuel companies in order to send a signal to those and other companies and policymakers that we do not want to participate in generating excessive heat trapping emissions, which are leading the planet to ecological chaos and opposing God’s mission of abundant life for all Creation.|
Divesting our funds
|February-June 2014||TSP Board of Trustees generate divestment action plan: to move the basic endowment fund, which was invested in the UCC Foundation with a Fiera pooled fund, to a Fiera Global Equity Fund, which was free of all fossil fuel funds.|
|June 2014||TSP Board of Trustees announces that it has divested our funds.
As a result of this switch, which included exposure to foreign currency, the new funds generated about 2% better returns by December 2014, than the non-divested UCC fund TSP had left. At the AGM one year after we’d voted to divest, the TSP Trustees reported that “as an unexpected blessing” the overall return on main investments in 2014 was 13.6%!
|July 2015||TSP Trustees re-invest holdings in Genus Capital Management’s fully fossil-free fund.
Meetings with various fund and investment managers led the Board of Trustees to select, after due diligence, Genus Capital Management as our new investment manager. Genus is fully divested and actively invested. By July 2015, they signed the new investment agreement and transferred our investment funds to Genus.
|Nov 2015-June 2016||TSP Trustees invest special Green Initiative Holdings in GreenChip Financial
In November 2015, Trustees created a small designated Green Initiatives fund. This fund was invested in June 2016 with a second manager GreenChip, who focus on Alternative Energy and Energy Reduction.
Working for divestment of the United Church of Canada
|Fall 2014-January 2015||CJG members develop wording for two motions to go to the United Church of Canada (UCC) General Council: the first directed to the UCC Treasury and UCC Foundation Funds; and the second calling on the UCC Pension Board to be transparent re its investments in fossil fuels and to report to its members on the faith and financial rationale for these holdings.
The CJG develops educational materials for members of various governance bodies acting on these motions (Presbytery, Conference, and General Council).
|August 2015||CJG member Ann Russell attends General Council and hosts information table and workshops on divestment. UCC General Council 42 passes both motions; this action received wide media coverage.|
|December 2015||UCC announces the Treasury Funds are divested.|
|We’re a small congregation. Can we do this?
Learn how TSP’s Climate Justice Group spread tasks among ourselves to ease the load.
|We’re committed to helping our congregation take a stand, but we’re not experts in divestment. How do we build the knowledge we need?
We share how we drew on numerous external resources to build our knowledge.
|How can we help our congregation understand the faith and justice rationales for divestment?
Explore TSP’s engagement of our broader congregational community to address climate justice.
|What is a realistic timeline for the divestment process? What do our Board and financial officers need to know?
Learn more about the key stages in TSP’s divestment and reinvestment process.
|The church across town has asked us for advice. How should we respond?
What is our role in the global climate movement?
|What are some other climate actions we can take as individuals? As a congregation?
Learn about other green initiatives at TSP.