Ethical Performance
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Climate change resolutions go through the roof


A record number of shareholder resolutions on the issue of climatechange have been filed over the past year in the US.

The 2010 proxy voting season’s 95 climate change resolutions posted with 82 companies represent a 40 per cent increase on 2009, and concern some of the biggest companies in the country.

The increase is thought to result from the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s new climate disclosure guidance, which says publicly-traded companies should disclose the climate-related material effects on business operations to investors.

Subsequently, for example, resolutions have been filed with ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips demanding that they report on the regulatory, legal and reputational risks associated with their Canadian oil sands operations.

Other companies targeted in the 2010 proxy season include energy firms, retailers and financial institutions.

Resolutions have been filed by many large pension funds and other institutional investors, many of whom are part of the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), an alliance of more than 80 institutional investors worth more than $8 trillion collectively.

Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, the US-based network that directs the INCR, said the Securities and Exchange Commission’s guidance has ‘affirmed [that] climate change presents clear material risks and opportunities for US businesses’. She added: ‘Investors have a right to know which companies are well-prepared and which are not.’

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