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Google facing sustainability proposal at annual meeting

Internet giant argues against board sustainability committee

Internet search giant Google is facing a shareholder motion on sustainability at its annual shareholder meeting in California today (June 2).

Investors will be able to vote on a motion put on the agenda by California-based socially responsible investment firm Harrington Investments calling on Google to amend its bylaws so that it can establish a Board Sustainability Committee.
The new committee would be tasked with reviewing Google’s policies on natural resource limitations, energy use, waste disposal and climate change.
The company is opposing the proposal. It says it takes environmental sustainability seriously and has taken a number of steps to operate more sustainably and reduce its own carbon footprint – while committing to longer term clean energy projects.
Google added that it annually participates in the Carbon Disclosure Project and has a website dedicated to highlighting its internal sustainability efforts – and that isbacking wind farm projects to power its data centres.
“Given our commitment and implementation of sustainability initiatives, we believe an additional board committee to be unnecessary to ensure a strong commitment to our sustainability strategy and recommend that stockholders vote against this proposal,” Google states. There will be a live webcast of the Google at investor.google.com.
A proposal tabled by Trillium Asset Management requesting a sustainability report was defeated at Google’s last annual meeting, in May 2010.

In March this year, Harrington said it would divest its entire holding in Chesapeake Energy Corp. over the firm’s poor environmental record and lack of accountability.

Other US companies facing environmental, social and governance (ESG) resolutions at forthcoming shareholder meetings include Home Depot, Wal-Mart Stores, Amazon.com and Caterpillar.