July 26, 2016

Unitarian Church first South Australian organisation to say goodbye to coal and gas

The Unitarian Church becomes the first South Australian organisation to reject the fossil fuel industry by committing to moving all their investments away from coal and gas.

More than 125 councils, universities, organisations and religious groups in Australia have committed to go fossil free – the second highest number of commitments in the world after the US – but this is the first such commitment from South Australia.

“We have a moral responsibility to take action on climate change and by profiting from the fossil fuel industry, we would be not upholding this responsibility,” South Australian Unitarian Minister Rob MacPherson said.

“It became clear that continuing to invest in fossil fuels was inconsistent with many Unitarian principles, including a respect for the interdependent web of all existence and justice, equity and compassion in human relationships.”

“We are already seeing the impacts of climate change: the Great Barrier Reef is dying, ancient forests are burning and these impacts will disproportionately hit the poor. Every organisation needs to be conscious of what their investments are funding.”

Australia has the highest number of divestments per capita in the developed world, and the Unitarian Church of SA’s decision is representative of a growing number of groups taking the lead on climate change while our Federal Government stalls.

“This decision to reject the coal and gas industry sends a strong moral message that investing in climate change is unacceptable.” 350.org Australia divestment campaigner and born South Australian, Isaac Astill said. “It’s great to see that the church won’t be investing in companies like Santos or BP, who both have fossil fuel interests in South Australia”

“Let’s hope our elected representatives in Canberra look toward religious groups, local governments, and others across Australia who are getting on with the job of tackling climate change.”

In committing to divest, the Unitarian Church of SA joins over 500 institutions worldwide, representing US$3.4 trillion. They include the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, the Australian Capital Territory, City of Newcastle, and the Universities of Oxford and Stanford.

Media contacts:

Cambell Klose 0490 436 948

Rev. Rob MacPherson 0466 438 529


Regarding Listed Investment Companies, taken from the Church’s Principled Investment Policy.

Where the Church holds shares in a Listed Investment Company with some interests

In fossil fuel companies, the Treasurer and Finance Committee should:

a) monitor the investment mix of these LICs and lobby the LIC to divest from the relevant companies; and

b) if no progress is made with (a) consider reducing or divesting our holdings in that LIC.