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Diocesan Resolution 2013-04: Responding to Super Storm Sandy and Climate Change

RESOLVED, That this 139th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark:

  • Urge all congregations, and agencies affiliated with the diocese to reduce their annual energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by at least 10% by December 31, 2013, reporting the results of their efforts to the 140th Convention;
  • Urge all members of our congregations in the diocese to reduce their annual energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by at least 10% and to plant at least one tree by December 31, 2013;
  • Call upon GreenFaith to plan a Plant-A-Tree Program and report to the diocese its findings for diocesan-wide participation;
  • Direct the leadership of all diocesan endowments and investment accounts to analyze the impact of implementing a plan to divest within 5 years from direct ownership and ownership of any commingled funds that include public equities and corporate bonds of the world’s leading 200 fossil fuel companies as identified by the Carbon Tracker Initiative and reinvesting the divested amount in companies or commingled funds whose primary focus is renewable energy development and to report its findings to the 140th Convention;
  • Call on the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church to direct the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee of the Executive Council to complete a similar analysis by June 30, 2016 and to present its recommendations to the Executive Council by December 31, 2016;
  • Direct the Secretary of Convention to send a copy of the resolution to the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee of Executive Council with the request for immediate action of a similar analysis in preparation for the 78thGeneral Convention; and, be it further 

RESOLVED, That this 139th Diocesan Convention encourage Diocesan Council to work with the non-profit interfaith environmental organization GreenFaith, to implement all aspects of this resolution and to report on its implementation to the 140th Diocesan Convention.

Submitted by The Rev. Fletcher Harper, Church of Our Savior, Secaucus and GreenFaith; The Rev. Ed Hasse, St. Paul’s, Montvale; The Rev. Geoff Curtiss, All Saints’, Hoboken; The Rev. Lynne Bleich Weber, Atonement, Tenafly; The Rev. Cynthia Black, Redeemer, Morristown

Supporting Information

Within the past 18 months, Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene have caused costly damage to congregations of the diocese and the homes of hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents, damaged or destroyed over 110,000 trees, and resulted in over 40 deaths in our state.  Our communities, environment and future are threatened by climate change, itself caused by the burning of fossil fuels.  Projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose scientific integrity have been affirmed repeatedly; show that climate change will cause grave global humanitarian, ecological and financial damage. Those most vulnerable to climate change are those who are poor.

God calls us to be good stewards of God’s good Creation (Gen. 1:31, 2:15).  Jesus commands us to care for those who are vulnerable as if we were caring for Him (Mt. 25:40).  Religious institutions are, by their mission, pledged to the protection and care of God’s people and God’s Creation.  Our diocesan mission statement affirms this: “Equipping congregations, empowering people, engaging the world with the hope and justice of Jesus.”

The Diocese of Newark, a long-time leader on issues of social justice, has previously called on political and economic leaders to address climate change.  Given our mission and history, it is morally self-contradictory for the diocese to continue to invest in companies whose operations and products cause such grave harm to humanity and Creation.

Similar fossil fuel divestment campaigns are underway at over 30 US colleges and universities, including three Ivy League schools, two branches of the University of California, and others.[1]  The top 200 fossil fuel companies - identified by the UK-based Carbon Tracker Initiative - control over 80% of all known fossil fuel reserves globally.[2]

The Episcopal Church already has policies prohibiting investments in tobacco companies, leading military/defense contractors, and companies whose activities provide income to the Sudanese government. 

Divestment by many religious and educational institutions was a vital part of the ending of the apartheid regime in South Africa.  Numerous research studies have shown that Socially Responsible Investing – including divestment from corporations whose operations, products or services cause serious human and environmental harm, does not lead to lower investment returns.[3]

GreenFaith, an interfaith environmental organization which the diocese helped found and has supported since 1992, can train congregations and their members to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.  GreenFaith also works with organizations coordinating fossil fuel endowment divestment campaigns.  GreenFaith has offered to work with diocesan leaders to implement the resolution.  Reducing congregational energy use will reduce operating expenses, creating added benefits.


Resource Date: 
Jan 26, 2013