Catherine Donnelly Foundation to divest Fossil Fuels from its investment portfolio

While the Foundation has used an engagement approach in the past, the board determined that a “business as usual” approach is not sustainable.

 Catherine Donnelly Foundation to divest Fossil Fuels from its investment portfo
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr

At a recent meeting, the Catherine Donnelly Foundation Board unanimously agreed that it would no longer make direct investments in any of the 200 global, publicly-traded companies with the largest coal, oil and gas reserves as listed in the Carbon Tracker Initiative’s “Unburnable Carbon” report.  

Established in 2003, the Catherine Donnelly Foundation is the human and financial legacy of "a remarkable group of women religious, The Sisters of Service. The Foundation is a living testament to the Sisters' tradition of response to the greatest needs in communities across Canada," text on the foundation's website says.

"The Foundation honours and builds upon the spirit of service and dedication that inspired Catherine Donnelly, the foundress of the community. It affirms the inherent dignity of every person and the sacredness of creation. It seeks to extend the radical commitment to social change, and to empower the marginalized that characterized the sisters' every action."

In keeping with its commitment to stewardship and ecological and social justice, the Foundation will seek out companies investing in renewable energy, other low-carbon fuel sources, energy efficiency and other environmental initiatives that otherwise satisfy the Foundation’s investment quality standards, according to an email sent out to media this week.

While the Foundation has used an engagement approach in the past, the board determined that a “business as usual” approach is not sustainable and that divestment is the best strategy to break the stalemate on climate action.

The newly elected Chair of the Foundation Jason Dudek said that “the Catherine Donnelly Foundation’s decision to divest from Fossil Fuels is motivated by a strong financial logic as well as a deep concern for environmental stewardship. We believe that governments, markets and the Fossil Fuel industry itself will soon have to face the ramifications of ever-intensifying climate change. As governments and global accords debate various restrictions on the Fossil Fuel industry, we feel these investments are becoming increasingly risky while the green energy sector continues to demonstrate excellent potential. The Catherine Donnelly Foundation views environmental sustainability as a key financial consideration and we hope others join us in this enlightened investment logic.”

At a time when humanity continues to add CO2 emissions to the atmosphere at unsustainable levels, it is appropriate that the Foundation adds its name to the divestment movement.

In the fall of 2011, the Catherine Donnelly Foundation funded two  environmental programs.

The first, with Ecojustice includes the protection of the environment in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The second, with Environmental Defence will identify and eliminate the top 5 hazardous indoor carcinogens by 2017.

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