The Episcopal Church Executive Council Investment Committee (ECIC) recently adopted guidelines in response to General Convention resolution C045 (2015), Call for Investing in Clean and Renewable Energy, regarding Episcopal Church investments in fossil fuels.
The ECIC has been addressing this issue prior to, and since, General Convention 2015, noted chairperson Mike Kerr of the Diocese of Virginia.
The ECIC has agreed that the committee:
1. Will no longer permit further direct purchases of fossil fuel holdings in the portfolio;
2. Will work with its consultant to screen out all securities within separately managed accounts where there are fossil fuel reserves and where a company reports that more than 10 percent of its revenue is derived from oil and gas;
3. Will convert any commingled/mutual fund holding to a socially responsible version, if available and financially prudent;
4. Will monitor fund holdings for compliance with investment consulting firm Mercer Investment Consulting LLC’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) ratings allowing ESG1 and ESG2 without hesitation; ESG3 with approval; and ESG4 only if justifiable after thorough review; and
5. Will continue to review investment managers that provide ESG and alternative energy themes.
The ECIC noted that while the $454 million portfolio at Dec. 31, 2017 had less than a 3.5 percent total exposure to fossil fuel reserves and had ESG criteria ratings superior to peer investors as confirmed by its independent advisor, Mercer LLC. Kerr added, “We will endeavor to minimize the financial impact to the portfolio as we implement this work.”
“Maintaining a modest exposure to fossil fuel companies will enable the church to continue its active role of corporate engagement and proxy voting along with the Executive Council Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility,” noted Margareth Crosnier de Bellaistre, director of banking and investment management.
ECIC members and their dioceses are: David Lorenzo Alvarez-Roldan, Puerto Rico; N. Kurt Barnes, New York; the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, New York; Dena Frith Moore, Virginia; Michael Kerr, Chair, Virginia; the Rt. Rev. Rodney Michel, Pennsylvania; B. Waring Partridge, the Virgin Islands; Maibeth Porter, Alabamba; Ronald Radcliff, South Carolina; the Rev. Andrew Walter, Washington.