Forty-three climate-related shareholder resolutions were filed with US companies this year, of which 15 led to positive actions by businesses such as ConocoPhillips, Wells Fargo and Hartford Insurance, according to Ceres. Shareholders withdrew their resolutions after the companies made their climate-related commitments.
Remaining resolutions that went to a vote received record high average voting support of 21.6 percent, including 39.5 percent support for a resolution filed with Allegheny Energy, the highest vote ever on a global warming shareholder resolution.
The ’07 proxy season also was marked by the first-ever filing of seven resolutions requesting that companies, including Exxon Mobil, set specific greenhouse gas reduction targets from their operations and products.
The Ceres’ press release follows a weekend article in the NY Times on the subject. The article focused on Sister Patricia Daly’s shareholder resolution, which asked ExxonMobil to set a firm date for reporting on its progress to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from both its operations and its products:
It’s fair to ask, of course, if shareholder activists are promoting interest-group politics or economic goals when they ask companies to take action on global warming. While environmentalists have long framed the issue in terms like “the health of the planet” or “the future of our children,” activists like Daly now talk about “risk” and “long-term profitability.” Their argument goes like this: climate change poses an enormous risk to nearly every sector of the economy. It is therefore prudent to plan for both its environmental impacts and the inevitable regulatory constraints that are coming.
Here are Ceres’ highlights from the ’07 proxy season.