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Shareowners Raise New Issue: Corporate Influence on Climate Related Public Policy
By Holly Testa, Director, Shareowner Engagement

Corporate influence on public policy is nothing new, and institutional investors have been actively encouraging full disclosure of corporate political and lobbying activities for many years. Now, deepening concern about how climate related risks impact investment portfolios is focusing attention on a specific question: How do corporations use shareowner dollars to influence climate related public policy?

This new initiative, led by Walden Asset Management, is part of the larger “Raising the Bar” investor climate campaign. It includes the filing of two different resolutions.

The first asks fossil fuel companies and major producers for a comprehensive review and disclosure of public policy positions and lobbying activities related to energy policy and climate change, including an analysis of whether a company’s lobbying and expenditures are blocking or advancing action to address climate change.

The resolution addresses both direct public policy advocacy as well as advocacy through third-party trade associations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute, and National Association of Manufacturers—all of which aggressively oppose legislation and regulation aimed at addressing climate change. Seven companies have received this proxy resolution so far, including Conoco Phillips, where First Affirmative has participated as a co-filer.

The second resolution is being filed exclusively at companies who are supporters of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is actively campaigning against state regulations and legislation that supports renewable energy—thus far unsuccessfully. Companies are being asked to review their state-level lobbying, especially through such groups as ALEC.

ALEC has been in the public eye because of their often controversial positions, which they actively promote at the state level by creating model legislation for submission to state legislatures. ALEC’s policy positions have prompted reviews by many companies, and over 50 companies have severed ties to ALEC.

First Affirmative understands that the ways we save, spend, and invest can dramatically influence both the fabric and consciousness of society. We believe that in addition to the benefits of ownership, investors bear responsibility for the impact our money has in the world. Are you making conscious decisions about the impact of your consumer purchase and investment decisions?

Mention of specific companies or securities should not be considered an endorsement or a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

 

 

Posted: February 12, 2014