Press Release: Wespath Benefits and Investments Joins Joint United Methodist Church Commitment to Net-Zero Emissions by 2050
First of its kind commitment fosters collaborative action to drive change
For Immediate Release
Contact: Julie Capozzi
Managing Director, Communications
Glenview, IL—In the first net-zero commitment of its kind, Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath), along with other agencies of The United Methodist Church (UMC), today released a joint statement, “Our Climate Commitment to Net-Zero Emissions.” The collaborative, multi-institution statement pledges to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the organizations’ ministries, facilities, operations and investments by 2050. “Net-zero” describes the process by which human-caused greenhouse gas emissions can be balanced, or “netted out”, by removing emissions from the atmosphere.
The statement acknowledges that the UMC “has long affirmed our individual and collective responsibility to address the unfolding climate crisis.” In light of these values, the group said it was “called by our faith, informed by science, and led by our relationships with impacted communities” to respond urgently.
“Wespath has long considered climate change as a financial risk to the investments we manage on behalf of those we serve. To fulfill our mission for years to come, we recognize these risks must be addressed,” said Barbara Boigegrain, Wespath General Secretary and CEO. “As general agencies of the UMC aligned in a commitment to net-zero, we know the best path to this crucial goal is one taken together.”
Wespath joined the United Nations-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance (Alliance) in 2020, pledging alongside members of the Alliance to achieve net-zero emissions in its investment funds by 2050.
Wespath’s endorsement of the UMC statement coincides with the release of its first near-term emissions reduction targets, published in alignment with the Alliance’s Inaugural 2025 Target Setting Protocol. More information about the 2025 target, Wespath’s leadership in the Alliance and its net-zero transition investment approach is available here.
Today’s UMC statement is endorsed by 11 General Secretaries and agencies:
- The General Board of Church and Society (GBCS)
- The General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM)
- The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM)
- The General Commission on Archives and History (GCAH)
- The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW)
- The General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA)
- Discipleship Ministries
- United Methodist Communications (UMCom)
- United Methodist Men (UMM)
- United Methodist Women (UMW)
- Wespath Benefits and Investments
Additional UMC agencies are also actively considering endorsing the statement.
The commitment comes at a time of growing climate action around the globe. Following the U.S.’ decision to reenter the Paris Climate Agreement, nine of the world’s 10 largest economies have stated ambitions to become carbon neutral. Meanwhile, corporate commitments to achieve net-zero have tripled in the last year.
Today’s announcement coincides with Earth Day, an international celebration of the planet, as well as the Biden Administration’s virtual “Leaders Summit on Climate” – a meeting of world leaders focused on climate action leading up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November.
Wespath will work together with other signatories in the coming months to solidify actions and strategies associated with the statement.
About Wespath Benefits and Investments
Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath) is a not-for-profit agency that has been serving The UMC for over a century. In accordance with its fiduciary duties, Wespath administers benefit plans and, together with its subsidiaries, including Wespath Institutional Investments, invests over $28 billion in assets on behalf of over 100,000 participants and over 100 United Methodist-affiliated institutions (as of December 31, 2020). Wespath invests in a sustainable manner that seeks to achieve positive financial, social and environmental impact while upholding the values of the UMC. Wespath maintains the largest reporting faith-based pension fund in the world. For additional information about Wespath Benefits and Investments, please follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.