08/12/2015 08:11 EDT | Updated 08/12/2016 05:59 EDT

Canada's United Church To Drop Fossil Fuels From Investments


CORNER BROOK, N.L. — The general council of one of Canada's largest churches has voted to drop fossil fuels from its investment portfolios.

Commissioners attending the United Church of Canada's general council in Corner Brook, N.L., voted 67 per cent in favour today to divest the industry from its treasury assets and to shift the $5.9 million from the portfolio into green renewable energy ventures.

The motion also says the commissioners "encourage" the United Church of Canada Foundation and the church's pension fund to divest its holdings in the top 200 fossil fuel firms. 

Christine Boyle, a church member from Vancouver who supported the motion, says the church's outreach programs work with people in countries like the Philippines where human-induced climate change may be contributing to poverty.

She says there was a strong moral argument against holding the fossil fuel shares, based on biblical arguments that humans are entrusted to guard God's creation.

However, Rev. Dave Pollard of Airdrie, Alta., says he opposed the motion because it doesn't allow for recognizing fossil fuel companies that are doing their best to improve technology and are more environmentally responsible. 

The meeting in Corner Brook is the triennial council of the church, and the motion was originally brought forward by Trinity-St. Paul's United Church in Toronto at a regional council.