During the 32nd General Synod in 2019, the United Church of Christ adopted a resolution, “Let Justice Roll Down,” to support the Green New Deal. The Green New Deal sets goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change and address social justice issues, such as economic inequality and access to clean water and affordable housing.
United Church Funds, a faith-based and socially responsible investor, maximizes efforts to use investments to make environmental, social and governance (ESG) improvements. This work of creating positive societal impacts is done with the express purpose of furthering our clients’ missions through their investments.
On June 5, World Environment Day, UCF is proud to share the partnerships we have forged, the work that we have accomplished and the progress of our initiatives to help address environmental issues.
Investment Fund Options Free of Fossil Fuels
- In 2015, UCF established the Beyond Fossil Fuels Fund, which screens out fossil fuel companies from a global universe of equities. Investors can also invest in the Beyond Fossil Fuels Balanced Fund, which is made up of the equities from the Beyond Fossil Fuels Fund combined with a divested portion of the Fixed Income Fund. At the end of 2019, there were 195 clients invested in the Beyond Fossil Fuels Fund and the Beyond Fossil Fuels Balanced Fund, with over $140 million invested in these funds.
- In 2019, UCF launched the Just World Fund (JWF), with early commitments from the UCC Covenanted Ministries, UCC Church Building and Loan Fund, and UCC Cornerstone Fund. Investments will aim to address global economic justice, fair and adequate housing, human rights to water and nutrition, and solutions for environmental security. One of the first vehicles in which the JWF will invest targets poverty by giving access to solar lighting and fuel-efficient cook stoves to families living in the developing world. These social initiatives are just two of the strategies deployed within the JWF, which will serve the dual purpose of addressing inequality and providing environmental solutions.
Climate Crisis Response
- UCF’s partnerships with Climate Action 100+, the PRI and several other investor coalitions continue. The Climate Action 100+ initiative seeks governance, action and disclosure improvements for the top 100+ corporate carbon emitters in the world. In 2019, UCF committed to becoming a lead filer with a company in the Forestry and Paper sector.
- UCF continues to be part of the #WeAreStillIn campaign, which comprises more than 1,000 corporations, states, universities and investors declaring their opposition to the White House’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and shirking its environmental responsibility. We will continue to seek ways to contribute to the international commitments of the Paris Agreement.
- In 2017, UCF changed its coal and tar sands investment screen and no longer invests in:
- companies that derive more than 20% of their potential emissions (based on reserves) from the extraction of thermal coal, or 20% or more of total potential carbon emissions of the thermal coal reserves owned by a company; and
- companies that derive more than 20% of their potential emissions (based on reserves) from the extraction of oil in tar sands, which is the resource-intensive process of extracting synthetic crude oil from highly viscous bitumen.
In addition, UCF has instituted an industry-neutral environmental screen that eliminates the lowest-performing environmental actors in the corporate space, even if these are not the most carbon-intensive companies.
- Influencing the decisions our investment managers make with regard to portfolio construction is also an essential aspect of our work. To that end, we are pleased that UCF’s core fixed income manager, the Pension Boards-United Church of Christ Fixed Income Team, had over $62 million invested in sustainable fixed income at the end of 2019. From that amount, 22% of the fund’s overall assets are green, and 14% are social.
United Church Funds is proud to continue to invest in environmentally responsible ways. We appreciate the work of our clients and other stakeholders to create positive and lasting change #ForNature – and to protect Creation.
Click here to learn more about our socially responsible funds.