Climate Change Proxy Resolutions Increase

Record filings follow SEC calls for more corporate attention to problem

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Following on the heels of the SEC's issuance of an interpretive guidance on disclosure that public companies must make regarding the potential impact of climate change on their businesses, a group of leading U.S. investors announced on March 4 that they have filed a record 95 global warming shareholder resolutions with 82 U.S. and Canadian companies. This represents a 40% increase over the number of such resolutions filed in the previous year.

The companies targeted with 2010 proxy resolutions include some of the largest energy suppliers, such as ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, as well as homebuilders, retail chains and financial institutions. (See a complete list of the climate-related resolutions here.)

These climate change disclosure resolutions were filed by public pension funds as well as labor, foundation, religious and other institutional investors, many of which are part of the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), an alliance of more than 80 institutional investors with collective assets totaling more than $8 trillion.

"We want our companies to closely look at the impact climate change legislation and regulation have on them, to realistically assess those risks, and to consider the indirect consequences of climate change-driven regulation and business trends on their activities," said Jack Ehnes, CEO of CalSTRS, the California State Teachers Retirement System which manages $131 billion dollars in assets. "The SEC's interpretive guidance outlines exactly the kind of action we have been asking our portfolio companies to take with regards to the issues raised by climate change. It fits with our role as a long-term investor focused on providing lasting value for the educators of California and their families."

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