“Do we want to make a statement, or do we want to make a difference?”– Commissioners opposed to divestment draft minority report

After the Environmental Issues Committee voted (with 35 in favor and 20 opposed) to recommend that Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) fully divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies, commissioners opposed to the recommendation began crafting a minority report. A draft of the minority report has been submitted to the Office of the General Assembly (OGA). The minority report recommends: “In place of item 08-01, which calls for divestment and ceases the MRTI [Mission Responsibility Through Investment] engagement process, we move that the 223rdGeneral Assembly (2018) approve item 08-08 which continues the MRTI engagement process.”

Item 08-08 is Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI)’s report before the General Assembly. It details how MRTI evaluates corporate responsibility on issues of climate change, and outlines MRTI’s plan to continue engaging with fossil fuel companies until the next General Assembly in 2020. If certain corporations continue to have a poor stance on climate change after two more years, MRTI will suggest selective divestment at the 224thGeneral Assembly (2020).

The minority report also relates the concerns of commissioners who voted against complete divestment. “Even many of those who voted for full divestment tried to preserve some type of engagement, but to engage effectively, we need to have leverage as committed long term investors,” the minority report reads. Another concern the minority report addresses is the language of the divestment overture: “Others [in the Environmental Issues Committee] voiced problems with the language of 08-01 – citing for example, the lack of clarity and understanding of what ‘fossil fuels’ constitutes. Does it include all production utilizing fossil fuels or is it limited to energy sources?”

The recommendation for divestment is scheduled to go before the General Assembly on Friday, June 22. The assembly will either approve the original recommendation of the Environmental Issues Committee, calling for the PC(USA)’s complete divestment from the fossil fuel industry, or approve the recommendation of the minority report, instructing MRTI to continue its policy of promoting eco-friendly measures at the table of fossil-fuel companies.

Three Young Adult Advisor Delegates (YAADs) and seven full commissioners from the Environmental Issues Committee signed the report.