(PNS) – The Presbyterian Church’s Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment has completed its first round of scoring corporations’ environmental records, finding some are making progress and others are at risk of potential divestment recommendations.
The committee’s guideline metrics were set up in response to a directive at the 222nd General Assembly (2016) to establish standards to evaluate companies’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. At the 223rd GA in 2018, commissioners approved the framework for those metrics and Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) set out on its first round of evaluations.
“After the 223rd General Assembly, the committee communicated the GA’s action to all nine companies named,” said Rob Fohr, Director of Faith-Based Investing and Corporate Engagement for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). “MRTI leadership also sent letters to the mid-council leaders where the companies are headquartered, making sure they were aware of the GA directive.”
It was not just MRTI putting together the metrics, a rigorous survey of 55 points on which companies were rated. The committee received input from partner groups including Fossil Free PC(USA), which has been lobbying the church for divestment from fossil fuel companies, and Faithful Action on Climate Change, an advocacy group based in the Synod of the Sun — a network of 11 presbyteries in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas.
“MRTI underwent a comprehensive and inclusive process to carefully assign weights to all of the criteria included in the Guideline Metrics framework. The committee took into account General Assembly policy as well as guidelines from the Climate Action 100+ and others,” Fohr said.
MRTI is part of Climate Action 100+, an investor initiative that represents more than $34 trillion of assets under management, or one-third of the world’s investment capital. The initiative’s goal is “to ensure the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take necessary action on climate change,” according to its website.
Through its metrics, MRTI evaluated nine companies named by the 223rd General Assembly, including energy companies Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Duke Energy, ExxonMobil, Marathon Petroleum, Phillips 66, and Valero Energy and automotive manufacturers Ford and General Motors. The evaluations are based on public disclosures, reports and filings, third-party evaluation from Sustainalytics, and the quality of MRTI’s direct engagements as of mid-June 2019.
The first round of metrics was reviewed and approved at MRTI’s summer meeting in June in the Detroit area, where committee members met with representatives of the auto manufacturers as well as people in the Flint community impacted by the water crisis and representatives of a neighborhood affected by Marathon Petroleum’s Detroit refinery.