The battle over Main Street Investors could determine the future of the American economy for decades to come. According to Cydney Posner of Cooley PubCo, on one side are those who believe investors must focus on maximizing financial return and management knows best. On the other side are those who want to broaden the focus of investors to include environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, with everyone participating in the debate. Continue Reading →
Tag Archives | climate change
Lobbying disclosure remains a top shareholder concern for the 2018 season, as evidenced by proposals filed at 50 companies by 74 institutional and individual investors. A coalition is asking for lobbying reports that include federal and state lobbying payments, payments to trade associations used for lobbying, and payments to any tax-exempt organization that writes and endorses model legislation. (Above graphic from The Nation’s Where Have All the Lobbyists Gone?)
I urge readers to vote in favor of all these resolutions. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, dealing with the related issue of political contributions, Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion justified the Supreme Court’s decision by pointing to the Internet.
With the advent of the Internet… Shareholders can determine whether their corporation’s political speech advances the corporation’s interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected officials are ‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests.
The 50/50 Climate Project released their Key Climate Vote Survey 2017 (link) of votes by America’s largest investors. Those attending last week’s informative Fall Conference of the Council of Institutional Investors in San Diego found out about it and many other newsworthy items.
Key Climate Vote Survey 2017: Groundbreaking Season?
First-time approval of climate risk proposals at Exxon (XOM) and Occidental (OXY) represents a huge win. Victory was only possible because of a highly visible shift in voting by mainstream funds State Street, J.P. Morgan, as well as from BlackRock and Vanguard, which joined climate risk proponents for the first time.
However, do not get complacent. More effort to get mutual funds to address climate change is still needed. According to the 50/50 Climate Project representatives at CII, Vanguard backed only 15% of such proposals, while Blackrock voted for only 9% — despite both managers’ high-profile support of resolutions at ExxonMobil and Occidental. The cynic in me says votes may be more driven by the potential for adverse publicity, rather than potential impact on value, although the two are undoubtedly correlated. Compare to Vanguard’s Investment Stewardship 2017 Annual Report.
Walden Asset Management has engaged a number of investment managers and mutual funds on their proxy voting practices, specifically challenging voting records on shareholder resolutions addressing significant social and environmental issues. I see this as a major victory. However, more Vanguard shareholders need to speak out to ensure momentum continues. Contact Vanguard.
In 2017, Walden filed resolutions with two Vanguard equity index funds that requested a review of their proxy voting at portfolio companies, particularly on shareholder resolutions focused on climate change. While mutual funds are not required to hold annual meetings for investors, Vanguard scheduled a November meeting for other reasons, thus setting up the opportunity for a vote on the Walden resolution. Continue Reading →
Trump’s clean power roll back could lead to millions of deaths around the world if the US abrogates its leadership and all such efforts to address climate change. Investors, businesses and scientists express their dismay. The executive order drew a rebuke from the European Union. “Now, it remains to be seen by which other means the United States intends to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement,” said Miguel Arias Canete, climate action and energy chief at the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm. (Donald Trump Signs Order Rolling Back Obama’s Climate-Change Rules)
Investors for Clean Power
Lisa Woll, CEO of US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment released the following statement today in response to the Trump Administration’s executive order to roll back the Clean Power Plan:
On behalf of our 300 plus members, US SIF believes the Administration should be working aggressively to reduce carbon in the atmosphere and that this executive order accomplishes the opposite.
Already, the United States is paying a high economic price from the ravages of severe drought, wildfires and storms associated with increased atmospheric levels of carbon. This is not the time to retreat from the call to protect current and succeeding generations from the catastrophic implications of further, unrestrained climate change. Continue Reading →
Walden Moves BlackRock: Background
A number of investors, led by Walden moves BlackRock on climate Risk. Walden Asset Management and the Center for Community Change, along with the City of Seattle Employees’ Retirement System and First Affirmative Financial Network, filed a shareholder resolution requesting a review of BlackRock’s proxy voting process and record on climate change.
Following extensive engagement and constructive dialogue between BlackRock, Walden and a number of investors, the shareholder resolution was withdrawn. As a result of the dialogue, BlackRock has updated its website to provide fresh insights into the ways it believes climate change creates risks and opportunities for companies. BlackRock also noted that climate risk will be a priority for their engagement with companies and boards throughout 2017 and 2018. Continue Reading →
Large institutional investors, concerned about portfolio risks stemming from the effects of global warming, are calling for climate-competent boards and directors as part of their fiduciary responsibility to preserve and enhance the long-term value of their investment assets.
Despite the anticipated rollback of climate related governmental policies such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan and limits on methane emissions by the Trump administration, investors still need to understand the risks that climate change poses to their portfolios. Unequivocal disclosures and boards equipped to manage and govern climate risk will be more important than ever. Now, however, it appears investors will not able to rely on federal regulatory standards or policy interventions to manage climate risk related to greenhouse gas emissions and the emphasis on fossil fuel production. They will be left to their devices to understand the very real financial impacts that climate issues could have on their portfolios. Continue Reading →
It is rare when investors file a resolution with a mutual fund since most funds don’t hold regular annual meetings. Nonetheless the act of filing puts the fund on notice that participants are concerned about their voting record on issues like climate change. Tim Smith shared this new resolution with Vanguard, which as many know signed onto the UN’s PRI.
It is significant that investors are questioning their proxy voting record on issues like climate change. Continue Reading →
The 50/50 Climate Project, a not-for-profit resource and action center for institutional investors focused on increasing the climate competency of boards of directors of large publicly traded corporations, is pleased to announce the appointment of Edward Kamonjoh as its inaugural Executive Director.
Kamonjoh joins the 50/50 Climate Project from Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) where he served most recently as head of U.S. Strategic Research and Analysis. He previously led ISS’ ESG Research team and was a member of ISS’ Global Policy Board. Kamonjoh brings more than 14 years of experience working with some of the world’s largest institutional investors on corporate governance and ESG topics. Continue Reading →
T. Rowe Price Group Inc (NASD:TROW, $TROW) is a financial services holding company. It is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up on April 26, 2016. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of three funds when I checked. I voted AGAINST the pay plan, compensation committee and directors with no shares. I voted FOR the auditor and the shareholder proposal seeking a report on incongruities between policies and voting practices on climate change– voting with the Board’s recommendations 13% of the time. View Proxy Statement.
Franklin Resources, Inc. (BEN) is a publicly owned asset management holding company, which includes Franklin Templeton Investments, and is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is on February 17, 2016. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of two funds when I checked. I voted against three directors and for the proposal for a report on voting incongruities regarding climate change voting. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 58% of the time. View Proxy Statement.
Franklin Resources: Special Note
This is one of the most important votes of the year because of the vitally important proxy proposal submitted by Zevin Asset Management, along with First Affirmative Financial and Friends Fiduciary Corporate. The proposal asks our company to report on incongruences between the proxy voting practices of Franklin Resources and its stated policy positions on climate change. If they are essentially ‘green-washing,’ this proposal should lead to a change in how they vote. If their proxy votes are already aligned with their policies and public statements, a report will provide an opportunity for good publicity. Continue Reading →
Norges Bank published their second annual report on responsible investment of the Government Pension Fund Global. They clarified expectations towards companies in 2015 and are creating a model I hope many will follow
The report provides a comprehensive review of work by Norges Bank on responsible investment in the management of the fund. Key areas of this work include developing and promoting international standards and principles, expressing expectations towards companies, and being an active owner.
Norges Bank expects companies to address a broad set of long-term risks in their strategies, investment plans, risk management and reporting. They updated expectations with regard to children’s rights, water management and climate change in 2015, and today they are also publishing their expectations for how companies manage human rights. Monitoring environmental, social and governance risks in the portfolio is an important part of Norges Bank Investment Management’s work on responsible investment. Continue Reading →
Norway’s Resource Extraction
The Government Pension Fund Global (Norges, the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund), is one of the world’s largest funds initially funded by resource extraction. Learn about its history, objective and management in the video clip below. The fund is saving for the future generations in Norway; where is the American equivalent?
To achieve broad exposure to global economic growth, Norges invests widely in most markets, countries and currencies outside Norway. The largest geographic exposures are to Europe and North America, followed by developed markets in Asia and Oceania and emerging markets. At the end of 2014, the fund’s holdings related to 75 countries and 47 currencies. Continue Reading →
Disclose Climate Lobbying: Resolutions Filed at Oil and Gas Companies
Encouraged by the forward‐looking actions addressing climate change at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) in December, investors have filed shareholder resolutions at 11 oil and gas companies asking them to disclose climate lobbying activities. The resolutions urge the companies to fully disclose their lobbying activities and expenses (direct and indirect through trade associations) and to review their public policy advocacy on energy policy and climate change. Let’s get oil and gas companies to disclose climate lobbying! I sincerely hope readers of Corporate Governance (CorpGov.net) will vote in favor of these resolutions as they appear on corporate proxies. Monitor how others are voting at Proxy Democracy. If you own stock in other oil and gas companies, consider filing similar resolutions. Don’t know how? Check out our Shareowner Action Handbook. Take Action! Continue Reading →
Recently, with the revelations about Exxon’s past support for climate denial organizations hitting the news, there has been a fresh interest in the ways oil companies have used their lobbying and contributions to oppose climate change solutions. For example most oil companies are members of the Chamber and American Petroleum Association, which recently sued the EPA opposing its clean power plan. Their money and reputation line up working to block regulations that would reduce GHG emissions. Continue Reading →
CivicSpark, a partnership of California’s Local Government Commission and the Governor’s Office of Planning & Research is an AmeriCorps program dedicated to building capacity in local governments to address climate change. They are now recruiting team members for the 2015-16 service year. Follow on Facebook and Twitter @LGC_media.
CivicSpark: Climate Leaders
If you are interested in joining the next generation of climate leaders, building your already considerable skills and creating a meaningful and lasting impact, now is the time to start the application process.
CivicSpark members work on projects that provide local governments with the support they need in their climate and sustainability initiatives. (Local governments can also propose projects at this time and volunteer support is welcome.) Continue Reading →
Deep in the heart of Texas, the oil industry is still going strong. Take Navitas Midstream, a private corporation that specializes in transporting fossil fuels. Navitas is currently laying a pipeline that, when completed later this year, will funnel natural gas fracked from the Eagle Ford Shale into a processing plant that’s also under construction. Called the “La Bahia System,” the pipeline and plant will handle 120 million cubic feet of natural gas per day. La Bahia is part of a labyrinth of fossil fuel infrastructure that’s growing and will generate billions in profits for its owners — even with the current slump in oil prices. But it also is fueling the fracking boom and climate change. Continue Reading →
Google Inc. (GOOG), a technology company that builds products and provides services to organize the information, is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up on 6/3/2015. ProxyDemocracy.org had the vote of one fund when I checked and voted on 5/28/2015. I voted with management 39% of the time and assigned Google Inc. a proxy score of 39.
View Proxy Statement. Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the Google Inc. 2015 proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value. Continue Reading →
The following PX14A6G filing on a shareholder proposal at Anadarko $APC by As You Sow might be of interest to readers. I’m too busy with my own proposals to make all the links work and to neaten up this post but you can find them in the original filing here.
I suspect we will see many more proposals like these in future. I think there are risks in carbon investments to both inhabitants of Earth and individual portfolios, so have sold just about everything in my portfolio in that sector, preferring alternative energy and biosciences. I like what As You Sow is doing and for a while I was trying to invest in “best-in-class” carbon companies… hoping to see more transition their investment to renewables. Unfortunately, what I found was mostly just greenwashing efforts. There is certainly much to be said for investors, like As You Sow, hanging in there and pushing from the inside. I applaud their efforts. Continue Reading →
Engagement is, or should be, the common theme of our three videos. CalPERS argues it gives them a seat at the table. Professor Damodaran extols the importance of engagement as a possibility. As a shareholder, what avenues are open? In Davos, I think they looked through the wrong lens. Instead of engagement, they focused on an assumed end-goal that rules out other human values. Continue Reading →
The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) recently welcomed the decision by Royal Dutch Shell’s Board of Directors to recommend support for the ‘Aiming for A’ shareholder resolution submitted by a coalition of shareholders including the Forum, CCLA, Rathbone Greenbank Investments and the Church Investors Group.
This is the third in a multi-part series on the main program of the 25th annual SRI Conference on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing held November 9–11, 2014 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. See also Video Friday: What is Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing?, Violating Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Increases Industry Risks, Surveys: Nonprofit Board Members & SRI 2014 Conference Attendees, 25th Annual Conference on Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. The Agenda page of the Conference site now has links to video, audio and presentation slides.
Building a Cleaner Future: Reducing Climate Change Before It’s Too Late
The American economy could face significant and widespread disruptions from climate change unless U.S. businesses and policymakers take immediate action to reduce climate risk, according to a new report, “Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States.” Check out their blog too.
The U.S. economy faces significant risks from unmitigated climate change. The Risky Business report presents a new approach to understanding these risks for key U.S. business sectors, and provides business leaders with a framework for measuring and mitigating their own exposure to climate risk. Join Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Michael R. Bloomberg, Thomas P. Steyer, and the members of the Risk Committee for the report release on Tuesday June 24th in New York City.
The Risky Business research focused on the clearest and most economically significant of these risks: Damage to coastal property and infrastructure from rising sea levels and increased storm surge, climate-driven changes in agricultural production and energy demand, and the impact of higher temperatures on labor productivity and public health.
CalPERS Senior Portfolio Manager and Director of Global Governance, Anne Simpson, discusses how environmental, social, and governance behaviors impact corporate performance and highlights recent Board policy statements concerning three forms of capital: financial, physical and human.
Read the transcript on the CalPERS site.
A series of strong shareholder votes have sent a clear message that natural gas companies must do much more to address fugitive methane leakage and management. Shareholder proposals asking Houston-based Spectra Energy $SE, Tulsa-based Oneok $OKE, and Fort Worth-based Range Resources $RRC to issue reports on how they are managing high-climate-change-impact methane emissions have received favorable votes from company shareholders: 35.4%, 38.2%, and 21.7% respectively. These are the first proposals directly addressing how leaking methane affects the environmental profile of natural gas, calling on companies to disclose leakage rates and mitigation strategies. Continue Reading →
Climate Change Portfolio Exposure
Boston Common Asset Management has a proposal that will appear on the proxy of PNC Financial Services ($PNC) requesting that it report to shareowners on the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from its lending portfolio and its exposure to climate change risk in its lending, investing, and financing activities. Watch for your proxy. The annual meeting will be held on April 23, 2012. According to the proposal, Continue Reading →
In The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, I explore how the right has systematically used crises—real and trumped up—to push through a brutal ideological agenda designed not to solve the problems that created the crises but rather to Continue Reading →
Below is video showing candidates from the 2011 Miss USA contest answering the question, “Should evolution be taught in schools?” Their answers are a great example of the normalization of the idea that evolution is “one side” of a story, with religion being the other side, and that we should just choose between these based on Continue Reading →