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What happens when the PC(USA) engages an insurance giant on climate change?

Leaders of Presbyterian Mission Responsibility Through Investment talk about their recent success with AIG

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — The Presbyterian Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) regularly engages corporations in which the church’s entities own stock to persuade them to bring their practices in line with Presbyterian policy on a number of issues.

“MRTI really gets to be the ambassador of Presbyterian values to publicly traded companies,” said Rob Fohr, director of Faith-Based Investing and Corporate Engagement for the PC(USA). “I can’t think of many other examples in the social witness of the Presbyterian Church where a Presbyterian entity says to a secular entity, ‘We’d like this to change to be closer to our values’ and really have that happen, more often than not.”

Rob Fohr

A recent example of how that works is MRTI’s successful engagement with American International Group, Inc. (AIG), which has committed to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its investment portfolio by 2050 in response to a shareholder resolution filed by the PC(USA).

So how does that work? Presbyterian News Service recently sat down with Fohr and one of the other key players in that engagement — the Rev. Dr. Lindley DeGarmo, who represents the Board of Pensions on MRTI and is Chair of the MRTI Banks and Financial Institutions subcommittee — for a conversation about how that engagement worked. DeGarmo said part of the key to success is being willing to have a long engagement with the company.

“Without that willingness to get into the weeds and take time to do it, to have patience, we just wouldn’t be taken credibly,” DeGarmo said. “We’d be seen as gadflies at the gate, rather than someone to sit the president, the CEO, down for a chat.”

Click here, or on the video above, for the full conversation.

Also, Fohr and MRTI Chair the Rev. Kerri Allen were on this week’s GA Watch segment of “A Matter of Faith: A Presby Podcast.” Click here to listen.

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