RI ESG Briefing, Feb 5: Investor coalition presses oil and gas companies on fracking

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


A coalition of US investors has filed shareholder proposals pressuring five major oil and gas companies (ExxonMobil, Chevron, EOG Resources, Occidental Petroleum and Pioneer Resources) to disclose progress in reducing the impacts of their fracking operations. The investors involved include Green Century Capital Management, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, As You Sow, the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN), Calvert Investments and the Sisters of St. Francis.

Trillium Asset Management, the US-based sustainable funds firm, has withdrawn a shareholder proposal at New York-listed industrial group Valmont Industries following what it says are commitments by the company to improve disclosures of measurement around greenhouse gas reduction initiatives. Trillium said Valmont has agreed to establish and report an emissions baseline for its carbon-intensive coatings division by December 31, 2015. “Trillium commends Valmont for addressing this important issue and for providing more transparency as they move toward greater energy efficiency.”

Dutch pension investment giant PGGM was among those who supported Walden Asset Management’s proposal at Emerson Electric calling for the New York-listed manufacturing company to publish a sustainability report that includes greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets and goals. PGGM, which also backed proposals on political contributions and lobbying, said: “Shareholders would benefit from more comprehensive disclosure of company sustainability-related metrics and goals.”


The US SIF Foundation has released a new report assessing the current range and state of foundation involvement in sustainable and responsible investing (SRI). The publication suggests that the number of foundations engaged in SRI, often employing such terms as mission-related investing and impact investing, has been growing in the last few years. The 52-page report is called Unleashing the Potential of US Foundation Endowments: Using Responsible Investment to Strengthen Endowment Oversight and Enhance Impact. Governance

Union-linked CtW Investment Group has written to Yahoo to make sure the Internet firm doesn’t overpay its executives, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. It comes after news that ousted operating chief Henrique de Castro received $109m for 15 months work, the Journal added, citing a letter from CtW’s Dieter Waizenegger to Yahoo Chairman Maynard Webb.

UK-based asset manager Standard Life Investments has teamed up with think tank Tomorrow’s Company to issue a set of practical recommendations to build on the UK’s Stewardship Code. Building the Momentum for Effective Investor Stewardship identifies a number of barriers to better investor stewardship including: a very uneven understanding of stewardship and its importance throughout the stewardship chain; and the limitations in the view that many investment consultants have of their role.

Canadian pension funds have discussed their concerns about corporate governance at a meeting with mining giant Barrick Gold Corp., according to a report in the Globe & Mail citing a company spokesman. It said Barrick’s incoming chairman John Thornton and lead independent director Brett Harvey met with the eight funds who voted against Thornton’s US$12m golden handshake.

The Canadian government’s Industry Canada is consulting on the Canada Business Corporations Act, with topics under review including executive pay, shareholder rights, corporate governance, board diversity and Corporate Social Responsibility. The consultation is open until March 12 and further details are available here

Shareholder activists John Chevedden and James McRitchie are reportedly being sued by New York-listed tech firm EMC over their attempt to get the company to split the chairman and chief executive roles. Bloomberg News reported that EMC sued them in federal court in Boston in a bid to exclude their proposal from the agenda for its 2014 annual meeting. The report added that Chevedden also has been sued by Chipotle American Grill, Express Scripts Holding and Omnicom Group.