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Environmental Stewardship and the Board of Pensions

The Board of Pensions continues to actively participate in Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) efforts to combat climate change and move the world toward meeting the standards of the Paris climate accord

Four years ago, the Board of Pensions convened a working group of representatives of all six General Assembly agencies to assess and address the PC(USA) response to God's imperative to care for the Earth. The result was the Collaborative Agenda on Environmental Stewardship, unanimously adopted by the 222nd General Assembly (2016).

At the same time, the Board of Pensions proposed an expansion of the Office of Faith-Based Investing and Corporate Engagement. The resulting agreement provided that the staff would be expanded from one to two professionals, with the second devoted to the issues of climate change. Under this agreement, the Board provides the Presbyterian Mission Agency with an additional $180,000 annually and the Presbyterian Foundation contributes another $30,000 to provide for the expanded work. 

The results of this partnership have been outstanding. Mission Responsibility Through Investing (MRTI) has developed metrics to track progress by individual companies and is now globally recognized as a lead agency in Climate Action 100+, the largest investor coalition ever created. The express goal of the coalition is to pressure the 100 top international carbon emitters into meeting the Paris standards by 2023. Because CA100+ is an association of active investors, those who choose divestment may not participate.

In terms of investing, the Board has actively sought and implemented positive energy strategies. In 2017, the Board began investing a portion of its Balanced Investment Portfolio with Impax in its Global Opportunities strategy, a fossil-free fund that seeks companies positioned for long-term profitability based on the transition to sustainable practices. To date, the Board has invested $115 million, the largest sustainability investment in PC(USA) history.

Also in 2017, the Board began offering the sister fund Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund Institutional Class (PGINX) to all participants in the 403(b)(9) Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), enabling individual Presbyterians to participate in this important undertaking. Pax Global joined the PC(USA) Socially Responsible U.S. Equity Fund and the
PC(USA) Socially Responsible Balanced Fund as a screened option in the RSP.