Motivated by mounting scientific evidence that human activity is a leading cause of climate change, major institutional investors are pushing for stronger actions from companies in climate-related shareholder resolutions in the 2014 proxy season.
Led by Walden Asset Management, the New York State Comptroller’s Office, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, Calvert Investments, the Connecticut Treasurer’s Office, Trillium Asset Management, Mercy Investments and Green Century Capital Management, 35 institutional investors have filed 142 resolutions in a coordinated effort to spur action by 118 companies – including Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Kinder Morgan, Lowes and several electric utilities – on a wide range of climate-related issues such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy efficiency and sustainable palm oil.
“The combined package of 2014 resolutions demonstrates a common urgency that investors and companies alike need to ‘raise the bar’ and expand our actions to address climate change,” said Timothy Smith, Senior Vice President and Director of Environmental Social and Governance Shareholder Engagement at Boston-based Walden Asset Management. “The range of resolutions shows how investors are broadening their outreach to more companies and deepening their message to other companies on difficult climate issues such as lobbying on climate by fossil fuel companies.”
This year’s record number of climate-related resolutions demonstrates that investors are paying more attention than ever to risks and opportunities that climate change and environmental issues pose to companies in their portfolios. The investors – many of which are members of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, coordinated by the sustainability advocacy group Ceres, and members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) – request specific actions from companies such as adopting and achieving company-wide goals for reducing GHG emissions from operations.
“Investors are not standing still as the climate crisis worsens. These wide-ranging resolutions reflect a deepening concern that stronger actions from companies are needed,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres and director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, which helped coordinate the filing of the resolutions.
Investors filed 23 resolutions asking companies, including Exxon Mobil and Dish Network, to set GHG reduction targets and increase transparency on how they are managing climate risks. They also filed resolutions with companies including Kraft Foods and PepsiCo requesting assessments of the company’s supply chain impact on deforestation and plans to mitigate these risks.
Recent analysis shows that many U.S. businesses, including numerous Standard & Poor's 500 index firms, have reported a higher rate of return on investments in carbon-reduction technologies than on overall corporate capital investments. In response to resolutions by Trillium Asset Management, Church & Dwight has agreed to set GHG emissions reduction goals and increase disclosure of the companies’ approaches to managing climate risk. Advance Auto Parts, Denbury Resources, Cabot Oil and Gas, and Lincoln Electric Holdings agreed to increase public disclosure to investors of how they are managing climate risk following engagements with Walden Asset Management. Meanwhile, a shareholder resolution filed by Mercy Investments at BorgWarner prompted an enterprise-wide commitment to assess not only GHG emissions, but also other waste streams from manufacturing, such as water waste. After dialogue with Calvert and Mercy Investments, PACCAR – one of the world’s largest manufacturers of medium and heavy-duty trucks – agreed to improve its reporting on climate change and the steps the company is taking to minimize its impacts.
The impact of these resolutions is already becoming clear on other issues as well. Last month, in response to a shareholder proposal filed by Green Century Capital Management, Kellogg Co. announced an industry-leading commitment to purchase only deforestation-free palm oil. Palm oil, which is a $50 billion-a-year commodity used in about half of all packaged goods, is a key driver of deforestation that accounts for more than 15 percent of worldwide carbon emissions. At least 30,000 square miles of tropical forest – an area bigger than Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire combined – has been cleared to accommodate palm oil plantations in the past two decades. Green Century also coordinated 40 investors representing $270 billion AUM to successfully lobby the world’s largest palm oil trader, Wilmar, to adopt a zero deforestation policy- a move estimated to save the 1.5 gigatons of CO2 by 2020, the equivalent of annual CO2 emissions from all of Central and South America. Investors have filed with a number of other companies calling for sustainable sourcing of palm oil, including Panera Bread and Safeway. As one of the world’s largest food processing companies, Kellogg’s commitment is a critical development.
"Kellogg's commitment to only purchase palm oil from responsible sources positions it as company working to curb climate change instead of one accelerating it,” said Leslie Samuelrich, President of Green Century Capital Management. “We hope that Kellogg's commitment encourages other companies to listen to shareholder concerns and develop sustainable palm oil supply chains that protect rainforests, which act as the ‘lungs’ of our earth to reduce carbon pollution.”
Kellogg’s commitment is just the latest example of shareholder impact. In 2013, Ceres worked with INCR member Mercy Investments to file a resolution with Continental Resources, the largest company operating in North Dakota’s Bakken region, to save energy and curb carbon pollution by reducing flaring. Three months later, the company set an aggressive goal to reduce flaring, setting an important precedent for shale energy production across the U.S. On January 29, 2014, the entire industry in North Dakota pledged to significantly reduce flaring while advocating for stricter regulations moving forward.
Topics covered by the 2014 resolutions include:
- comprehensive sustainability reporting
- greenhouse gas reduction goals
- methane emissions
- carbon asset risk
- energy efficiency
- deforestation and sustainable agriculture
- spending on political lobbying related to climate and energy
- greenhouse gas emissions financed by banks
- plans to source renewable energy
- and adding a board member with environmental expertise
For more information and to view these shareholder resolutions, visit www.ceres.org/investor-network/resolutions.
Ceres is a nonprofit organization mobilizing business and investor leadership on climate change, water scarcity and other sustainability challenges. Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of over 100 institutional investors with collective assets totaling more than $11 trillion. Ceres also directs Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), an advocacy coalition of nearly 30 businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation. For more information, visit www.ceres.org or follow on Twitter @CeresNews.
The Western Union Foundation Celebrates International Women's Day with US$125,000 Grant to Mercy Corps
In recognition of International Women’s Day, the Western Union Foundation today announced a grant of USD$125,000 to Mercy Corps.
The grant from the Western Union Foundation will support the work of Mercy Corps, in collaboration with the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA), to provide female workers in China with professional development and leadership skills training, which sets the foundation for better life skills, such as budgeting and navigating workplace issues.
The grant is part of the Western Union Foundation’s signature program, Education for Better. Education for Better is a multi-year commitment from the Western Union Foundation to help meet global education goals by supporting secondary, vocational and life skills training programs that enable financial opportunity for individuals, their families, and their communities.
“Education for Better provides assistance for education programs in key markets, and leverages the strength of The Western Union Company’s global network to achieve a tangible social impact on the communities and customers we serve,” said Patrick Gaston, president of the Western Union Foundation. “On International Women’s Day, we are pleased to support the work of Mercy Corps and the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, as they help inspire the next generation of women in China to achieve their life goals and increase their economic potential.”
Founded in 1979, Mercy Corps is a leading global humanitarian agency saving and improving lives in the world’s toughest places. With a network of experienced professionals in more than 40 countries, Mercy Corps partners with local communities to put bold ideas into action to help people recover, overcome hardship and build better lives.
Established in 1989, the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation supports communities and individuals living in poverty with programs designed to help improve productivity, increase healthcare and other living standards, and facilitate sustainable social development. Since its founding, the CFPA has raised nearly 900 million Yuan for more than 200 poverty reduction projects, directly helping more than two million poor people across China.
In 2013, the Western Union Foundation committed more than $6.8 million to more than 95 NGOs in 31 countries, facilitating education, professional development and disaster relief programs for individuals, families and communities in need.
Additional information, including the mission and purpose of the Western Union Foundation, can be found at www.westernunionfoundation.org.
About The Western Union Foundation
The Western Union Foundation is dedicated to creating a better world, where the ability to realize dreams through economic opportunity is not just a privilege for the few but a right for all. Through its signature program, Education for Better, and with the support of The Western Union Company, its employees, Agents, and business partners, The Western Union Foundation works to realize this vision by supporting education and disaster relief efforts as pathways toward a better future. Our combined social ventures efforts make life better for individuals, families and communities around the world. Since its inception, The Western Union Foundation has committed more than $93.9 million in grants and other giving to more than 2,708 nongovernmental organizations in more than 133 countries and territories. The Western Union Foundation, is a separate §501(c)(3) recognized United States charity. To learn more, visit www.westernunionfoundation.org.
Global Sustain is pleased to announce the Sustainability Forum 2014, a training, networking and professional development event that is scheduled to take place on October 3, 2014 in Athens, Greece.
During these challenging times, sustainability is more than ever needed since many of today’s challenges are a complex mix of environmental, social and economic factors.
Global Sustain once more is taking a step forward in an attempt to make such issues emerge and explore the future of sustainable business, by preparing a unique event for third year in a row.
Prominent international speakers will take part in this event, revealing fresh perspectives on sustainability issues and sharing their hands-on expertise and experience with the delegates, through specialised workshops and plenary sessions.
Open call for speakers, trainers and sponsors
We are now accepting submissions for speakers and trainers. If you are interested in running one of the workshops, please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information on participation fees and sponsorship opportunities, please visit: http://sustainabilityforum.gr.
- Certifications of attendance will be provided to participants.
- Program registration fee is eligible for LAEK/OAED funding.
- For sponsorship opportunities please contact Mr. Michael Roussos (Tel.: +30 210 927 1115 or email: email@example.com)
About Global Sustain
Founded in 2006, Global Sustain with offices in Athens, Brussels and Melbourne, creates awareness and inspires and supports companies and organisations to embody sustainability, through advisory, communications, networking and training, with a focus on the people-planet-profit philosophy. Its members include corporations, non-governmental and non-profit organisations, municipalities and local authorities, educational foundations, media, professional bodies, think tanks and other public or private entities. Global Sustain is a signatory to the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, a GRI Data Partner and Organisational Stakeholder (OS), an affiliated member of the Academy of Business in Society, collaborates with CSRwire and Ethical Performance, and donates a percentage of its annual pre-tax earnings to help fund innovative, not-for-profit projects that make an impact. www.globalsustain.org.
B Corp, the premiere entity that measures the social and environmental practices of businesses nationwide and internationally, has certified Gardener’s Supply of Burlington, Vermont, a leading online and catalog garden products retailer and wholesaler, as a Certified B Corporation.
B Lab, is the national non-profit that certifies and supports B Corporations. B Lab conducted a rigorous evaluation of Gardener’s Supply and determined that the company met the comprehensive performance standards required to qualify for certification. Gardener’s Supply will join other Certified B Corporations that are legally empowered to consider the impact of their decisions on their employees, suppliers, community, consumers and environment.
Gardener’s Supply is 100% employee-owned and is nationally known for their award-winning gardening products, progressive management style and commitment to building community through gardening. The prestigious B Corporation designation is awarded to companies that use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems and which meet higher standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.
Gardener’s Supply has long been a socially responsible business, becoming 100% employee-owned in 2009, supporting gardening-related good works efforts nationwide, developing and sourcing sustainable products, supporting employee volunteerism, and donating 8 percent of profits back to the community. Founded in 1983 by Will Raap and a handful of enthusiastic gardeners, the company was also co-founder of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR), one of the most active corporate social responsibility organizations in the U.S.
“Our business and our employee-owners have been focused on the triple-bottom line of people, planet and profits since we started in 1983, so this is a logical next step for us.” said Jim Feinson, President of Gardener’s Supply Company.
“B Corp certification will help us create new conversations about our social and environmental impact, around the company, with our customers and in the community, and help us set ongoing performance goals to achieve as our business continues to grow.
"Gardener’s Supply is proud to achieve B Corp certification and join the growing community of B Corp businesses committed to conscientious and sustainable business practices,” continued Feinson.
Gardener's Supply actively promotes gardening as a way for people to make the world a better place. The company supports programs and organizations that are using gardening to improve quality of life and the health of our environment. The company provides garden grants in Vermont and across the U.S. that focus on gardening and hunger-relief, supporting many community gardens, workplace gardens and urban farms.
The company's headquarters are located in Burlington, Vermont in an area known as the Intervale. In 1986, Gardener’s Supply spearheaded an Intervale clean-up effort to restore the area – 700 acres of bottomland within the city limits of Burlington, Vermont – to its agricultural roots. The company founded the non-profit Intervale Center, an independent nationally recognized resource, incubating new farms and educating small scale farmers on diversified sustainable agricultural practices.
Gardener’s Supply also has on-site gardens dedicated to raising and donating fresh produce to local food shelves. The company also collaborated with the Intervale Center to initiate a gleaning program to harvest surplus vegetables that farmers would not otherwise harvest for market. In 2013, the combined efforts of the Gardener’s Supply on-site gardens and the Intervale Center gleaning program donated more than 9,000 pounds of fresh produce to local food banks.
About Gardener’s Supply
Founded in 1983, Gardener’s Supply is an 100% employee-owned company of avid gardeners providing garden-tested, earth-friendly products combined with practical information. Located in Burlington, Vermont, the company has won many awards for its innovative gardening products, online gardening content and progressive management style. Gardener’s Supply is now a Certified B Corporation.
About B Corp
Certified B Corporations meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, legally expand their corporate responsibilities to include consideration of stakeholder interests, and build collective voice through the power of the unifying B Corporation brand. As of February 2014, there are more than 900 Certified B Corporations from over 60 industries and 28 countries, representing a diverse multi-billion dollar marketplace.
About B Lab
B Lab is a nonprofit organization that serves a global movement to redefine success in business so that all companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the best for the world. B Lab drives this systemic change through a number of interrelated initiative: 1) building a community of Certified B Corporations to make it easier for all of us to tell the difference between “good companies” and good marketing; 2) passing legislation to accelerate growth of social entrepreneurship and impact investing (12 states have already passed benefit corporation legislation); 3) driving capital to high impact investments through the use of GIIRS Ratings and Analytics (more than 60 investors with over $3B in impact assets under management use GIIRS); and 4) providing free, powerful tools for businesses to measure, compare and improve their social and environmental performance (more than 7,000 businesses use B Lab’s free B Impact Assessment).