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proxy 2014

Shareholders File Record-Breaking Number of Social, Environmental Resolutions

proxy 2014Investors have filed 417 social and environmental shareholder resolutions so far this year at least 50 more than the same time in 2013 and 20 percent more than in February 2012, according to an analysis of proxies.

The “Proxy Preview,” an annual report by As You Sow, the Sustainable Investments Institute and proxy voting service Proxy Impact, says more environmental resolutions have been filed than ever before.

Political activity is still a focus of investors, making up 30 percent of the total. However, when combined, resolutions concerning climate and energy, other environmental issues and sustainable governance make up 39 percent of the total.

Shareholders filed more than 90 environmental resolutions with requests for disclosure the most common theme. For instance, shareholders at Travelers are asking how climate risk will change its underwriting and investing practice.

Some 22 proposals demand greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. Twelve of the resolutions are related to US shale energy development and ask companies to account for methane  and limiting its release into the atmosphere.

Shareholders, who remain skeptical about the safety of shale energy extraction that uses hydraulic fracturing, have brought back six proposals considering the issue. Shareholders also filed 13 environmental resolutions on either packaging and recycling, deforestation concerns or water.

Other related resolutions include two new proposals on toxics, including As You Sow’s request to Dunkin’ Brands to report on its use of nanomaterials in food.

Some 324 resolutions are now pending, up from 284 at the same time last year and 279 in February 2012, the report says. Companies have lodged 87 challenges to these resolutions at the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which has rejected five and accepted 14 so far. The SEC must still decide on another 49. Investors have withdrawn 19 of the challenged resolutions, sometimes after reaching an agreement with the company.

Utility FirstEnergy, one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the US, responded to shareholder demands and in January agreed to reduce its carbon emissions.

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