by Ethel Howley, SSND

Divesting from the Chevron Corporation, an American multinational energy provider, is one initiative taken by the SSND Cooperative Investment Fund (CIF) in keeping with its sustainable investment strategy for the environment and the care of our common home.  After more than ten years of dialoguing with Chevron’s executives and filing resolutions related to various aspects of climate change, such as the Human Right to Water for all people; fracking and its effects on water, soil, and nearby communities; and lobbying expenditures related to climate, the CIF Board of Directors reached the decision to withdraw a sizeable investment in Chevron. This decision was made even though Chevron did meet the CIF’s guidelines after the upgrading of the corporation’s rating two years ago, and now the SSND Board would need to change its guidelines.

Our CIF guidelines indicate that our mission as a religious congregation motivates our investment activities.  "Our mission is to proclaim the good news as School Sisters of Notre Dame, directing our entire lives toward that oneness for which Jesus Christ was sent. As he was sent to show the Father's love to the world, we are sent to make Christ visible by our very being, by sharing our love, faith, and hope." (YAS 3) 

At this time, the Vatican's Peace and Justice Office is inviting Catholic communities across the world to join a grassroots movement to work gradually toward "total sustainability" in the coming decade, a path that would include carbon neutrality, simpler lifestyles, and divestment from fossil fuels.

The latest SSND Directional Statement calls us to “educate, advocate, and act in collaboration with others for the dignity of life and the care of all creation.”  In keeping with this call “to act in collaboration with others,” the CIF purchased shares in Black Rock’s Global Renewal Power Investments over a year ago.  SSNDs are now supporting renewable energy through wind and solar power distribution and storage assets, across Europe, North America, and the Asia Pacific region. These are structural drivers for the energy transition and the role of renewables which will hopefully make a positive and measurable impact that is aligned with the UN’s sustainable development goals

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) investment guidelines encourage policies that undertake reasonable and effective initiatives for energy conservation and the development of alternate renewable and clean energy resources. They suggest offering incentives to corporations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Pope Francis challenges us in Laudato Si’ (165), “We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay.”

To better understand and share in current developments and activities in the corporate responsibility movement, the SSND Cooperative Investment Fund participates in engagements with corporations along with other members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) and the Investor Advocates for Social Justice (IASJ).  Through our engagements with corporate executives, we will continue to advocate for a just transition to a low-carbon economy by reducing emissions in line with the I.5 degrees warming scenario of the Paris agreement. We will promote reduction and, where possible, elimination of the use, manufacture, or sale of products and services that cause environmental damage, or health and safety hazards. We will also continue engaging corporations to follow the path of the Paris Agreement by phasing out fossil fuels completely by 2050, while ensuring a just transition for affected workers, creating good-paying jobs in clean energy, and clean transportation.

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