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Beyond Paris: Divestment!

How do we respond to Climate Change in ways that are effective, life-giving, and equitable? By taking action that is practical, structural, and spiritual. We’ve  developed the Beyond Paris Pledge to incorporate all three of these areas and to consider how practical action can be a form of spiritual practice.   

Join us by signing the Beyond Paris Pledge to reduce your carbon footprint 50% by 2030. Each month we’ll provide you with the resources and support you need to make a plan to get there! This month we’re focusing on Divestment from Fossil Fuels.

 

What is divestment/investment?

Divestment means getting rid of stocks, bonds, and investment funds that are unethical or morally ambiguous. Investment and reinvestment mean putting funds to work for social good. The global divestment/investment movement began with a July 2012 article by Bill McKibben in Rolling Stone magazine. In 2012 there were only 3 fossil fuel divestment campaigns on college campuses. The movement has grown immensely since, with divestment quickly moving off campus to municipalities, state pension funds, foundations, and faith communities. By July 2013 there were over 350 campus campaigns, dozens of faith communities and one denomination (the United Church of Christ-UCC) committed to divestment. Today, foundations and other funds valued at more than $3.4 trillion dollars have implemented or committed to divestment from fossil fuels. 27% of the divesting institutions are faith based!

 

Thanks to the hard work of many individuals at local levels, the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Episcopal Church, and the World Council of Churches have decided to divest their fossil fuel holdings, and others are scheduled to consider divestment decisions. Divestment campaigns are underway around the globe.

 

The MNIPL divestment team has created a robust Divestment Toolkit for Faith Communities. You can find the full toolkit here.

Resources

Read the Guardian’s Beginner’s Guide to Fossil Fuel Divestment, a comprehensive guide to the basics of divestment: what it means, why the urgency and how it impacts climate change.

Watch this video about divestment as a strategy for climate action. Here, Guardian journalists and US author Bill McKibben explains where the idea came from; why it's been central to any environment solution; its successful application in history; and the extent to which this exciting socially-driven movement will help add crucial pressure for change on business leaders and politicians the world over.

Discuss!

  • Is divestment strategic? Why or why not?

  • How does divestment build the climate movement?

  • Divestment sends a signal that says, we don’t accept the status quo.

 

Get started!

Personal Action: In the effort to curb global carbon emissions for a safe and stable climate, the growing fossil fuel divestment movement allows us to take individual action while directly contributing to systemic change. Join individuals, universities, religious institutions, and businesses around the world by committing to divest and reinvest your own personal investments and working with your faith community to do the same. Take the pledge today!

Systemic Action: Our partners at Divest-Invest Minnesota are working hard to make sure the pensions of hard-working Minnesotans are protected and that our state is no longer making risky investments in harmful fossil fuel extraction and transport. Fossil fuel extraction and consumption are major contributing factors to climate change which threatens us all, including future generations.

Please sign the petition to urge the Minnesota State Board of Investment to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel companies and invest in sustainable and renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that benefit Minnesota’s economy.

 

Spiritual Practice

We see divestment as an opportunity to align our financial practices with our spiritual values. When we look intentionally at the values by which we lead our lives and make our financial investments, we are invited to look at all the places we invest our time and energy and money. We look at how we connect with the divine, our true selves, our neighbors and the world.

 

One guidance common to all societies is that we treat others as we want to be treated; and we don’t treat others in ways we wouldn’t want to be treated, the Golden Rule. This way of acting in the world requires discipline. Doing this intentionally and regularly in all aspects of our lives requires practice in a spiritual frame of mind and heart.


We can speak of this spiritual practice as implementation of an implicit  covenant with all of humanity, with every living creature, with all future generations. As covenant partners, we are called to act consistent with this golden rule in all we do. At the core of most or all world religions is the call to love our neighbors as ourselves.