RI ESG Briefing, April 12: Exxon AGM, CalPERS, Norges Bank, Walden AM, Better Finance

The round-up of the latest ESG developments


Institutional investors with more than $6trn of assets under management have declared that they will support a shareholder proposal urging ExxonMobil to disclose the impact of climate change policy on its business. The resolution was co-filed by the Church Commissioners for England and New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli as Trustee of New York State Common Retirement Fund. It asks Exxon to disclose how resilient its portfolio and strategy would be were policy measures to restrict global warming to 2 degrees, as agreed in Paris in December 2015, to be successful. The resolution will be put before ExxonMobil’s AGM on May 25. More than 30 institutional investors have declared that they will vote for the motion so far, including major fund managers and pension funds Amundi, AXA Investment Management, BNP Paribas, CalPERS, Legal & General Investment Management, Natixis, New York City Retirement Fund and Schroders.

CalPERS, the US pensions giant, says it will be voting FOR a shareowner proposal on climate change reporting at AES Corp., the New York-listed energy firm. AES holds its annual meeting on April 21 and the resolution was filed by Mercy Investment Services and the Presbyterian Church. “We believe this request is of particular significance in light of the global consensus regarding climate change and emission reduction targets reflected in the Paris Agreement,” CalPERS said.

Trillium Asset Management, the US SRI investor, has written to fellow shareholders in Verizon urging their support for a renewable energy proposal at the communications giant co-filed by Green Century Equity Fund and Pax World Mutual Funds for its May 5 AGM. The motion wants senior management to set targets by September 2016 to increase renewable energy sourcing and/or production. The letter, from Brianna Murphy Trillium’s Vice President for Shareholder Advocacy & Corporate Engagement, notes that some of Verizon’s largest shareholders are PRI signatories. She says: “We believe this proposal is in line with these principles and warrants PRI signatory support.”


It’s been reported that Norwegian opposition parties and organizations are planning to protest outside the country’s parliament in Oslo to pressure the Government Pension Fund to exit investments in tax havens in the wake of the Panama leaks. Bloomberg said that about 450 people had registered. The report quoted Norges Bank Investment Management, which runs the fund, as saying closed jurisdictions and tax evasion are “a financial risk for the fund”. The statement went on: “We expect the companies to exercise openness around the issue, and to receive information about how the companies relate to taxation.” It comes as the European Union has unveiled plans to force large firms to disclose more about their tax affairs.

Trillium Asset Management, the Sustainability Group of Loring, Wolcott & Coolridge and the Green Century Funds issued a letter to the shareholders of PepsiCo to urge them to vote in favour of Trillium’s Pollinator Protection proposal. The motion advocates against the use of the neonicotinoid insecticide that is linked to the decline of pollinators. The vote will be cast at the AGM on May 4.h6. Governance

Better Finance, a Brussels-based shareholder association, has recommended that investors in Volkswagen that have suffered losses from the emissions scandal join a Dutch foundation that seeks compensation from the German auto giant. According to Better Finance, the foundation is funded by international law firms that have “a strong track record in litigation…as well as experience with international cases similar to the VW case.” The foundation’s aim is to induce VW to settle all compensation claims arising from the scandal. VW, however, has no made no indication of any willingness to comply. Link

Walden Asset Management, the US SRI investor, says it received 61% support from shareholders for its ESG reporting proposal at US industrial group Clarcor’s annual meeting on March 29. This vote by Clarcor makes it join the small number of companies to experience a majority vote in support of ESG resolutions.

The Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) plans to rate the whole investment chain on its approach to climate risk. It will provide new indices will help asset owners hold suppliers and advisers to account, it says. The new set of annual indices will be modelled on AODP’s annual Global Climate 500 Index, which will be released for the fourth time next month. The new Global Climate Asset Manager Index will rate the top 50 asset managers covering 70% of the market and more than $40 trillion in investments. Other planned indices will rate the top 20 investment consultants, the top 20 proxy/engagement advisers and the three main ratings agencies.

BP CEO Bob Dudley could reportedly be facing a shareholder rebellion against his 20% pay rise for 2015, the year BP reported its worst ever annual loss. BP has instigated talks with investors as the company fears a confrontation at its AGM on April 12. BP has not ruled out a change of the proposal, reports said.

Nasdaq, the tech-heavy US exchange, plans to require its listed companies to disclose so-called “third-party compensation” for board directors and candidates for the board, law firm Davis Polk reports. Third-party compensation is defined as pay a director gets from an outside source in addition to pay earned as director. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is currently seeking comments on Nasdaq’s proposal, which, if adopted, would take effect on June 30.

Italy-based power company Enel has partnered with international sustainability standard-setter the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) to promote the use of sustainability information in strategic decision making in the business sector. They are working on the identification of new sustainability and reporting trends, shaping the future of corporate disclosure practices to enable businesses to monitor and predict the evolution of sustainability-related issues. It comes ahead of the 5th GRI Global Conference next month.

Democrats in the US Senate have delayed confirmation of two appointees to the SEC because they have not indicated whether they back corporate disclosure of political spending. The candidates for the vacant SEC seats are Republican Hester Peirce and Democrat Lisa Fairfax. During a confirmation hearing, four Democratic Senators, including Elizabeth Warren, said they couldn’t support them unless they committed to requiring the disclosure. The protest led Richard Shelby, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee to postpone a confirmation vote. Link