RI ESG Briefing, Jan. 16: $100bn interfaith investor group launches climate vote campaign

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, whose member organizations have more than $100bn in assets under management, has launched a Twitter campaign (#ProxyVoteForPlanet) to encourage more shareholders to vote in support of resolutions addressing climate change at this year’s company annual meetings. Its members have filed nearly 30 climate change resolutions this year – or more if anti-environmental lobbying is included. “Every so often an issue of enormous consequence emerges to underscore the importance of ’active’ stock ownership,” says ICCR Executive Director Laura Berry. “Climate change is one of those issues. Whether you’re an individual or an institutional investor, we strongly urge you to vote your proxies in support of proposals that advocate for GHG reductions and call for investments in green energy.”

The UK’s new Green Investment Bank is to provide more than £30m of funding for a new recycling and waste-to-energy plant in Yorkshire in northern England. The bank will provide senior debt to the project from waste management firm Shanks – lending on commercial terms alongside a group of banks including BayernLB, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and Barclays Bank. Link

US advocacy group Ceres has been awarded the top prize in the non-governmental organization (NGO) category of the prestigious Zayed Future Energy Prize. The prize is awarded as part of the World Future Energy Summit, being held this week in Abu Dhabi.


The Shanghai Stock Exchange has the potential to play a greater role in improving extractive company transparency and disclosure and build on its existing social responsibility and corporate governance measures, according to a new report. ‘Transparency Matters: Disclosure of payments to governments by Chinese extractive companies’ has been published jointly by NGO Global Witness and Beijing-based sustainability consultancy SynTao. It is available here. Governance

Danish pension fund PFA Pension will no longer invest in US retail giant Walmart because of the company’s record on workers’ rights, according to a Reuters report. PFA Pension is withdrawing an investment of DKK50m (€6.7m). PFA Pension’s standards for employee rights are based on conventions from International Labour Organisation (ILO).

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced that the $150bn New York State Common Retirement Fund would freeze its investments in listed firearms makers, following the Connecticut school shootings in December. He said: “As the fiduciary of the Fund, it is my obligation to protect and grow Fund assets and we will continue to monitor the economic and regulatory environment before taking any additional steps.” The freeze impacts the fund’s holdings in an index fund of 45,325 shares of Sturm, Ruger and Co. worth $2.2m. Its stake in Smith & Wesson was already were sold by an external manager on December 18. DiNapoli was acting on the recommendation of the fund’s Chief Investment Officer Vicki Fuller and after consulting outside fiduciary counsel.

The UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, the US auto industry body, has announced the start of a multi-year collaboration with New York-listed retailer Walgreen. They will work together to “develop a best practice policy approach to corporate political activity oversight and disclosure”. The agreement “demonstrates Walgreen’s commitment to adopting corporate governance best practices by better aligning its interests with those of its shareholders,” said Meredith Miller, Chief Corporate Governance Officer of the Trust. It is anticipated the agreement be model for future corporate-shareholder engagements. Detroit-based UAW is the largest non-governmental payer of retiree health care benefits in the US. Announcement