The nation’s largest Presbyterian denomination have voted to place Chevron, ExxonMobil, Marathon Petroleum, Phillips 66 and Valero Energy on their General Assembly Divestment/Proscription List “until their actions comply with the General Assembly’s established criteria.” In other words, the PC(USA) is formally divesting from major oil companies out of missional concerns.
The PC(USA) utilizes a set of rules called the Guideline Metrics to help guide churches’ investments and “improve the companies’ governance, strategy, implementation, transparency and disclosure, and public policy with respect to climate change.” By a 340-41 margin, commissioners to the 225th General Assembly agreed that five major energy companies warranted divestment on those terms. They join a longer group of companies — mostly military and weapons-based — that the PC(USA) has divested from. It’s a significant victory for certain Presbyterian groups who have been pushing for the denomination to take more action against climate change for decades — one activists hope can be part of convincing fossil fuel companies to get serious about the environment.
PC(USA) Office of Faith-Based Investing and Corporate Engagement director Rob Fohr told the church’s official website that the move was monumental, entailing “the largest batch of companies MRTI has recommended since the Apartheid era.” Dr. Tom Taylor, the president and CEO of the Presbyterian Foundation, said they’ll start removing investments from the companies “as soon as possible.”