Divesting from fossil fuels has been much in the news in the past year or two. While it may not have resulted in the demise of oil companies, it has succeeded in opening up discussion about money, values and climate change.
“Two years ago, I wished I could have been as engaged with climate change as I can be now,” says Chris Meyer, an investment specialist with Everence, remarking on the increased demand for environmentally responsible investing. Everence is a Christian financial services organization affiliated with the Mennonite Church USA and other denominations.
Meyer spent over an hour with the Mennonite Creation Care Network Creation Care Council during their last face-to-face meeting in late March, leading the group in a lively discussion on socially responsible investing. Meyer points to the following examples of Everence’s response to consumer demand for greener investments:
- In early 2014, the company announced that they had tightened their environmental screening policy. This resulted in Everence excluding about 150 more companies from the pool of investments their managers choose from.
- Meanwhile, Everence added the Advantage Select High Impact Annuity to its retirement offerings. Investors who own an Advantage Select Annuity have the peace of mind of knowing that 50% of their money is loaned to businesses making environmentally friendly improvements, socially engaged congregations and community development projects.
- More recently, in March 2014, Everence committed 3.5 million dollars to the auto industry’s first ever asset-backed green bond. The money in this bond helps people get loans for energy-efficient vehicles.
Meyer himself models yet another kind of socially responsible investing: he’s purchased strip-mined land in Ohio and is restoring it. Meyer showed MCCN council members a photograph of a tree-planting project on his land. Planting hardy evergreens is an inexpensive way to help the land recover. Meyer has been able to learn what works from his grandparents, Art and Jocele Meyer, who made a similar investment in the 1980s. His land is adjacent to theirs.