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“Invested in Change: Faith-Consistent Investing In A Climate-Challenged World” is a document produced by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), intended to catalyze discussion around practical solutions needed to speed the shift to low-carbon and sustainable energy alternatives. It is offered as an open invitation to companies, investors and advocates to share their gifts in the collective work to build more sustainable and climate-resilient economies, businesses and communities.
The Missionary Oblates, along with other ICCR members, are trying to limit climate-related risk by advancing research and dedicated investment in climate change solutions. These Climate Finance initiatives are being pursued by faith-based and socially responsible investors to propel the shift we need to a low-carbon economy.
What is lacking is a favorable policy environment that can ensure optimal risk-adjusted returns, which, investors, as fiduciaries, are required to achieve. As articulated in the Global Investor Statement on Climate Change (endorsed by 265 investors including ICCR, and representing $24 trillion in assets), private investment will only flow at the scale and pace necessary if it is supported by clear, credible and long-term policy frameworks that shift the risk-reward balance in favor of less carbon-intensive investment. For this reason, ICCR members are working with others in the investment community to press for the climate policy shifts that will unleash this flow of capital and drive clean energy investment. At the same time, members are seeking to educate the broader responsible investment community about both current and future climate finance opportunities.
Here are some examples of initiatives in which the Missionary Oblates have been active:
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Goodbye to Plastic Bags in Laredo Texas April 14th, 2015
Laredo, Texas has banned the use of plastic bags, after a nearly decades-long campaign by community based environmental groups. Fr. Bill Davis, OMI joins in this PSA video to alert people to the ban, which will start on April 30th.
The ban will prohibit single-use retail plastic bags with a less than 4 mil thickness, and single-use paper bags with a less than a 30-pound weight standard. Exceptions have been made for restaurants, fast food establishments, meat products, dry cleaners, newspapers, nonprofits, and foods that are chilled or frozen.
Each year, Laredo – a city of roughly 240,000 people – consumes an average of 120 million plastic bags, according to city estimates. The city is littered with plastic bags, and they have created a significant problem for the city’s creeks and storm drains, as well as the Rio Grande, the city’s only source of drinking water.
The Rio Grande International Study Center (RGISC), a non-profit that works with the Oblates in Laredo and now the JPIC Office, spearheaded the effort to clean up local waterways.
Fossil Fuels: Divestment vs Engagement April 13th, 2015
Trying to shift the global economy away from polluting, dangerous fossil fuels that we use very day – to clean, renewable fuel sources that can power our economy well into the future, is a complicated task. While the rate of growth of renewable energy sources is increasing rapidly, it is still far behind what we need to avoid pushing past a 2degree limit on temperature increase. The climate change movement, 350.org, has spearheaded a movement to pressure institutions, from charitable Foundations to universities, to divest from stocks of fossil fuel companies. While there are good financial arguments for doing so, based on concern about stranded assets, there is also an argument to be made for continued engagement with oil and gas companies on climate change issues. Laura Berry, Executive Director of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), makes the case for engagement in a letter to the UK-based Guardian newspaper, in response to a recent article.
Here is her response:
“Members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a coalition of more than 300 faith-based institutions representing more than $100bn in invested capital, have been engaging the fossil fuel industry to address climate change since before the term was coined. You could say they are gnarled veterans of shareholder engagement with an industry, like tobacco, that is “on the ropes” due to a product offering that continues to be in high demand yet is widely known to present clear public health risks. The conundrum responsible owners of these companies face is not new; it is a tension that they have faced for decades. The divest/engage debate fuelled by your article (Climate campaigners losing faith in value of engaging with fossil fuel firms, theguardian.com, 7 April), which seeks to oversimplify the issue and to divide climate activists, only underscores the complexities of the problem and the genuinely difficult tasks we all face in shifting the energy industry, and our economy, on to a more sustainable path. Is shareholder engagement difficult and slow? Most definitely. Is it enough? Of course not. But do we still believe engagement is a powerful tool for social change? We do.”
“Responsible investors are deploying all their tools – divestment, engagement and everything between – to advance green energy solutions because we believe multiple and collective, inside and outside strategies are needed for what is a herculean task. Is the cause best served by discrediting the methodologies of our allies or leveraging the complementarities? Should we focus on our tactical differences or concentrate our collective energies on our common climate change enemies: investor apathy and policy inertia? We propose the latter.”
Executive Director, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
Citing a papal directive to take decisive action on climate change, the Global Catholic Climate Movement has started a petition which seeks to display “a strong Catholic voice” of concern on climate change ahead of international negotiations set for Paris in December.
“Climate change affects everyone, but especially the poor and most vulnerable people. Impelled by our Catholic faith, we call on you to drastically cut carbon emissions to keep the global temperature rise below the dangerous threshold of 1.5°C, and to aid the world’s poorest in coping with climate change impacts,” reads the petition, accessible on the movement’s recently revamped website.
In a message delivered toward the end of the last climate negotiations in Lima, Peru, the pope said that decisive climate action “is a grave ethical and moral responsibility,” and warned that there exists “a clear, definitive and unpostponable ethical imperative to act.”