Ceres pushes shareholder resolutions
The “Climate Watch List” identifies 10 companies that investors believe are not adequately dealing with potential climate-related business impacts, whether from physical changes, emerging climate regulations, or growing global demand for climate-friendly technologies and services. The list includes major electric power companies, oil producers, coal companies and other businesses. Ceres also provides tracking of shareholder resolutions on climate change, 42 of which have been filed with U.S. corporations so far this year, with the 10 ‘Climate Watch’ companies as well as 26 other firms. The resolutions ask companies to report on energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change risks and opportunities, often asking for companies to develop emissions reduction plans and targets to address related business risks and opportunities.
Twice as many resolutions have been filed so far this year, double the number of climate-related resolutions in 2004, reports Ceres. They have been filed by institutional investors including state and city pension plans, religious groups, labour coalitions, and others. Collectively, the filers manage more than $200 billion in assets.
A full list of 2007 climate change resolutions can be found here. Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres, said that many firms may be compromising their long-term competitiveness and shareholder value by not addressing the business risks and opportunities related to climate change. “We want all companies to understand the business impacts of climate change – and plan for it accordingly. It’s is what any corporate director would expect of their CEO,” she added.
The ten firms on the climate watch list were chosen for their large size and their general reluctance to engage the issue or respond to shareholder concerns.
The list includes three electric utilities with large coal portfolios: Allegheny Energy, Dominion Resources and TXU Corp., as well as coal miners Consol Energy and Massey Energy, along with ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips. Other sectors are also represented, with retailer Bed, Bath & Beyond, financial firm Wells Fargo, and insurance company ACE Limited included for their lack of progress compared to other firms in their sectors.
Shareholder activism, proxy voting, and investor information disclosure requests on climate change have become increasingly common in recent years, as the financial impacts of global warming become clearer.
The largest such initiative is the Carbon Disclosure Project, which seeks information from the world’s largest companies on greenhouse gas emissions, climate change risks and opportunities, adaptation and mitigation strategies, and climate change related technologies in use. The Project is an explicit recognition by a coalition of investment organizations representing more than US$40 trillion in assets that climate change has clear financial implications which should be considered by investors.
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