Environmental stewardship

​The Board of Pensions seeks, and implements, positive energy strategies. It is an active participant in efforts by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to combat climate change and move the world toward meeting the standards of the Paris climate accord. 

A portion of the Board's Balanced Investment Portfolio is allocated to companies dedicated to sustainable practices. And individual Presbyterians have the opportunity for sustainable investing through the Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (RSP).

Sustainable investing

In 2017, the Board began investing a portion of its Balanced Investment Portfolio with Impax in its Global Opportunities strategy. This fossil-free fund seeks companies positioned for long-term profitability based on the transition to sustainable practices. The Board has invested $115 million, the largest sustainability investment in PC(USA) history.

Also in 2017, the Board added the sister fund Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund Institutional Class (PGINX) to the RSP. So, individual Presbyterians can use their RSP accounts to combat climate change. [Pax Global joined the PC(USA) Socially Responsible U.S. Equity Fund and PC(USA) Socially Responsible Balanced Fund as a screened option in the RSP.]

Collaboration

The Board of Pensions convened a working group of representatives of all six General Assembly agencies in 2014 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 proposed an expansion of the Office of Faith-Based Investing and Corporate Engagement of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. The staff went from one to two professionals, with the second devoted to climate change issues. The Board contributes $180,000 annually to the expanded effort and the Presbyterian Foundation, $30,000.

Great strides have come with the expansion. The committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI), an arm of the office, now tracks progress by individual companies on shrinking their carbon footprint.

Progress

In 2019, the Board became an investor signatory of Climate Action 100+, a coalition of more than 320 investor signatories from dozens of countries that manage assets totaling more than $33 trillion. The Board joined MRTI, which is globally recognized as a lead agency in this coalition.

The goal of CA100+: Drive the largest corporate emitters of greenhouse gases to change their practices and processes. These include 100 companies that account for two-thirds of annual global industrial emissions and more than 60 that are well positioned to support the transition to clean energy.

CA100+ requires investors to sign on to the Climate Action 100+ Sign-on Statement, signaling their support for the Paris agreement. Because CA100+ is an association of active investors, those who choose divestment may not participate.