UCA Funds Management recently announced it will no longer invest in companies involved in mining or exporting thermal coal, as well as companies profiting from unconventional fossil fuels.
The Fossil Fuel Policy has been developed in response to community concern regarding the environmental impact of fossil fuel mining.
The policy will also exclude companies that extract or refine unconventional oil (such as shale and deep water drilling) and those that extract and export unconventional methane gas (such as coal seam gas), which involves a process known as fracking.
Michael Walsh is CEO of UCA Funds. He said the policy – recently approved by the Synod Standing Committee – had been developed after consultation with the Justice and International Mission (JIM) unit.
He stressed that the policy balances environmental concern with responsible investment.
Mr Walsh explained that, although some anti-fossil fuel campaigns encourage divestment from all 200 publicly-traded companies involved in fossil fuel mining, UCA Funds decided against imposing a blanket ban. Companies with major investments in renewable energy will still be considered for investment.
“It’s in step with where we can, and should, head in terms of sustainable economic development,” Mr Walsh said.
“Our policy embraces how society can transition to cleaner energy – discouraging emissions-intensive and unconventional fossil fuels and encouraging investment in cleaner conventional fossil fuels whose extraction process has proven to be safe.”
JIM unit director Dr Mark Zirnsak said it was important for the Uniting Church to act on the danger of climate change in its own operations while also calling for action from the Federal Government.
“We need to be seen to be acting with integrity with regards to the harm climate change will cause around the world,” Dr Zirnsak said.
“However, voluntary actions such as this do not replace the need for meaningful government action.”