RI ESG Briefing, March 17: Total, Chevron, Modern Slavery Act, Robbins Geller, BM&FBOVESPA

The round-up of the latest ESG developments


French oil giant Total says it will publish a document on climate change at its annual shareholders’ meeting on May 24 as it is “conscious of the importance of climate change challenges to the future of the group”. It said: “This document will outline in particular the management of the Group’s emissions, Total’s response to the IEA’s post-2035 scenarios, investment strategies and R&D in low-carbon energies, key indicators followed by the Group as well as Total’s engagement with public policies addressing climate change.”

Oil major Chevron will face a shareholder proposal on stranded assets and dividend policy at its forthcoming annual general meeting. The proposal from SRI firm Arjuna Capital will now appear on the meeting agenda following a ruling by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the US regulator. It’s the second year Chevron will have faced such a proposal; a similar motion last year received 3.2% shareholder support. The proposal calls for Chevron to commit to increasing total capital distributions – dividends and share buybacks – in light of stranded carbon asset risk, that is, to “increase capital distributions to prevent losses from unburnable carbon” according to a supporting statement from Arjuna.

Former US Vice President Al Gore has said world leaders must show their commitment to tackling global warming by signing the Paris climate agreement at a ceremony in April at the United Nations. “There is an overwhelming amount of hope that the Paris climate agreement could be a turning point towards a more resilient, low-carbon future,” he was quoted as saying in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.


UK-based civil society organisations have published a guide for companies reporting under the Transparency in Supply Chains clause into the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015. The guidance is called “Beyond compliance: effective reporting under the Modern Slavery Act. A civil society guide for commercial organisations on the transparency in supply chains clause.” The document has been prepared by UK-Based coalition on corporate accountability and ECCJ member CORE with contributions from other civil society organisations such as Amnesty International UK, Anti-Slavery International and others.

The Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 in the UK has reportedly received Royal Assent and entered into law; it includes creating a statutory power of social investment for charities, which enables charities to invest for lower financial return or higher risk where this advances the purpose of the charity.

Over a third (39%) of institutional investors – pension funds, insurance companies, Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) and banks – view sustainable asset selection as ‘critical’ or ‘one of the most important criteria’ when selecting properties to acquire, according to CBRE’s 2016 EMEA Investor Intentions Survey. The survey spans institutional investors, REITs, private equity and venture capital firms.h6. Governance

A federal judge in Tennessee has reportedly dismissed a suit against the Securities and Exchange Commission by law firm Robbins, Geller, Rudman & Dowd seeking documents connected to the SEC’s investigation into Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for possible Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations. Bloomberg reported that Judge Todd Campbell ruled that the SEC met its burden of showing that it had a proper basis for denying Robbins Geller’s Freedom of Information Act request.

Brazilian exchange BM&FBOVESPA has started the Special Corporate Governance Segment’s development process, with respondents able to comment on corporate governance practices, grouped under subjects such as free float, board of directors, internal controls, transparency and delisting rules. The first phase of the discussion will finish on May 16 and will be carried out through an online questionnaire. The entire process will finish next February.

Canada’s Institute of Corporate Directors industry body has released its guidance on director-shareholder engagement in response to demands from investors, including activist shareholders, for increased and better dialogue with their corporate boards. The guidance is framed around six core recommendations: knowing your investors, recognizing the benefits of engagement, adopting a strategic and tailored process, framing your discussion appropriately, addressing the real decision-makers and making the most of what comes out of the discussion. Link

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the corporate sustainability reporting body, has announced plans to increase its presence and activities in the ASEAN region with the opening of an office in Manila, the Philippines. The GRI added it would deliver workshops to over 100 sustainability reporters across Indonesia, Sri Lanka and The Philippines to build capability in the region.

The GRI and CDP have released their latest linkage guidance to support companies in their reporting on climate-related impacts. The updated will enable organizations to report on their critical climate change and water impacts, and ultimately take steps to reduce these impacts, using the very latest guidance.

A bill intended to increase the numbers of women on corporate boards in the US is being backed by business lobby group the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Democratic Senator Carolyn Maloney introduced the Gender Diversity in Corporate Leadership Act on March 7, according to reports – adding the Chamber told Maloney in a letter that it supports the bill. The bill would require public corporations to report the gender composition of their boards and board nominees to the SEC. Link

It’s been reported that shareholders in investment banks JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup will get to vote on whether their banks should consider breaking into smaller pieces. Reuters said the latter included the proposal in its proxy statement for its annual meeting next month. It added that the shareholder sponsoring that proposal, Bart Naylor, said he has a similar one in train for JPMorgan’s AGM.