Saturday, March 11, 2017

Will Unitarians disinvest in fossil fuels?

I was pleasantly surprised last week when my Annual Meetings pack landed through my letter box and I discovered that there are no wordy social justice motions this year.

Every year I hope and pray for that, but it's never happened before. Most years we have five wordy motions calling for this and that that we debate, pass and then promptly forget. It's an annual ritual that convinces us we're doing social justice when in fact we're just talking to ourselves. It's an easy social justice that doesn't actually require any work from us.

But no, this year we don't have that. Thank God.

Perhaps now we have an opportunity not to forget about what we did last year. Last year we passed a resolution calling for us to respond to combat climate change. Of course the resolution did not call us to any concrete action, but perhaps now we can walk towards that concrete action.

One concrete thing we can do is disinvest Unitarian shares from fossil fuel companies.

Climate change is the biggest issue we face. If the world is to stay below the 2C temperature rise then we need to move urgently to a low-carbon economy. If we are to stay below 2C then companies need to leave nearly all fossil fuels we know about in the ground. We cannot afford to burn them. And yet fossil fuel companies are basing their business plans on more extraction and more exploration for further sources of fuels.

There is a growing movement to disinvest from such companies to demonstrate that these companies are having a negative impact on the world, and to refuse to profit from that impact.

The Quakers and the United Reform Church in Scotland have already committed to this. And pressure is building for the Church of England to do the same.

Now I have no idea what shares the Unitarian General Assembly has (who does?) but it seems to me this is something we should do as well. I know we're not as rich at the Church of England, but neither are we poor. There are considerable Unitarian investments.

Are we prepared to use the power and wealth we do possess to actually do what we say we're about -building a better world? Are we actually prepared to do something concrete to move the world in the right direction? Can we walk the walk and not just talk the talk for once?

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