AT&T, GE, GM and Ford are among the who’s who of corporate America that has been accused of taking contradictory positions on climate change, in letters by almost two dozen investors and investment groups managing $202 billion in assets.
Investors led by Calvert Investment Management and Walden Asset Management sent a letter (pdf) to 43 companies on the board of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), urging them to explain how they reconcile their own greenhouse gas-reduction policies with NAM’s intention to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its powers to regulate GHGs.
The investors say that many NAM board members have set laudable goals to reduce their GHG emissions, and many of the targeted companies regularly report on their progress towards those goals. They include Abbott Laboratories, AEP, Alcoa, Intel and PPG Industries, which have all released sustainability reports in just the past few months.
In one example, the investors’ letter sent to Michael Gambrell, EVP of manufacturing and engineering at Dow Chemical, commends the company’s sustainability efforts. “Dow has established strong climate change emissions goals with measurable baselines and targets,” the letter says. “The company has led the industry via constructive engagement in climate change public policy with other leading businesses as part of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. Yet these steps are at odds with our company’s work through NAM.”
The investors object in particular to a NAM letter of March 15, supporting an amendment which would have repealed the authority of the EPA to regulate GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act.
The list of targeted companies includes Johnson Controls, named best corporate citizen by Corporate Responsibility Magazine. The list also names major consulting firms that offer climate change and sustainability practices, including Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Grant Thornton, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Other targeted companies include Air Products & Chemicals, Bayer, Boeing, Clorox, ConAgra Foods, Conoco Phillips, C.R. Bard, CSX Corporation, Devon Energy, Dow Chemical, Ecolab, Eli Lilly & Co., Exxon Mobil, H.J. Heinz, Illinois Tool Works, Ingersoll Rand, Merck & Company, Nucor, Pfizer, Praxair, Procter & Gamble, Ryder Systems, Shell, Sherwin-Williams, Southern Company, Toyota and Verizon.
The letter argues that NAM and its member companies should support EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. The authors say that the EPA rules are not overly costly as NAM claims, and that the rules will actually enhance manufacturers’ competitiveness by encouraging energy efficiency and cost savings. A growing number of investors are supporting EPA regulation of greenhouse gases, the letter writers argue.
The letter asks for more information on the cost saving potential of energy efficiency measures that would be required by EPA regulations, and asks the companies to re-evaluate their involvement with NAM.
“Any company supporting NAM’s recent letter to Congress seeking to block EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases harms their public image and reputation as well as forward progress on environmental issues,” Stu Dalheim, director of shareholder advocacy with Calvert Investment Management, said.
Timothy Smith, senior vice president with Walden Asset Management, said: “Serving on the board of a trade association comes with the responsibility to govern responsibly and hold the association accountable for lobbying that results in environmental harm.”
Besides Calvert and Walden, investors signing the letters were: the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, BC Investment Management Corporation, Catholic Healthcare West, Green Century Capital Management, the Christopher Reynolds Foundation, Friends Fiduciary Corporation, PaxWorld Management, Boston Common Asset Management, First Affirmative Finaancial Network, Unitarian Universalist Association, SEIU Master Trust, Portfolio 21 Investments, Miller/Howard Investments, Veris Wealth Partners, Parnassus Investments, Mercy Investment Services, Domini Social Investments, Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, Joyce Moore Financial Services, Henderson Global Investors and Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge.