RI ESG Briefing: Investors write to energy firms on shale flaring

The daily round-up of environmental, social and governance news


A group of investors representing $500bn (€376.8bn) in assets, have written to 21 energy companies about the “flaring” of natural gas from shale oil wells, saying it is “environmentally damaging, economically wasteful and a threat to the industry’s bottom line”. The investors include Dexia Asset Management, F&C Asset Management, Boston Common Asset Management, Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, PaxWorld Management, Portfolio 21 Investments and Presbyterian Church. Among the companies targeted are: Anadarko, Apache, BP, Chesapeake, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Occidental, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil and Total. Link

Competition in the global wind turbine market remains “fierce”, especially in China, according to MAKE Consulting’s new 2011 Global Wind Turbine Market Share report. Denmark’s Vestas retains top spot, while China’s Goldwind is in second place. Link

The International Standards Organisation has launched a new standard aimed at helping businesses to cut costs linked to waste and emissions and enhance their environmental performance. The new standard is ISO14051:2011, Environmental management – Material flow cost. It “assists organizations to better understand the environmental and financial consequences of their material and energy use practices, so that they can identify opportunities for improvement”.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand says it is supporting renewable energy firms seeking to list on its Market for Alternative Investment, by issuing new listing rules effective March 26, 2012. “The new rule supports fundraising of renewable energy business, which is useful to our economy and environment, and builds national energy security,” SET said.


Brazilian exchange BM&FBOVESPA says it is broadening the scope of its BVSA socio-environmental investment exchange. The BVSA is a financing programme for Brazilian NGO projects. From now on, the BVSA will include projects that focus on the eight Millennium Development Goals established by the United Nations.

The European Business Schools/Women on Board initiative has published its first list of more than 3,500 senior executive level “board-ready” women, who it says can help “hatter the glass ceiling for women in Europe’s publicly listed corporation’s board rooms”.

The RI Academy, the online training initiative of the Responsible Investment Association Australasia, has completed the launch of its international Executive ESG Training Program for PRI asset owner signatories. The program, in collaboration with Highland Good Steward Management, has been supported by over 50 organisations.h6. Governance

US socially responsible funds firm Trillium Asset Management has written to fellow shareholders in telecoms giant AT&T. It is urging them to vote for its shareholder proposal on network neutrality at the company’s annual meeting in Salt Lake City on April 27, according to this filing.
US union the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has welcomed an agreement with investment bank Goldman Sachs to adopt a lead director. In return, the AFSCME will withdraw a shareholder proposal calling for Goldman to split the chairman and chief executive roles. Link
Meanwhile AFSCME is urging shareholders of medical products firm Johnson & Johnson to vote against the ratification of executive compensation at the company’s annual meeting on April 26. “The JNJ Board needs to get its hearing checked,” said AFSCME President Gerald McEntee. “After almost 40% of its shareholders voted against CEO pay last year, they are still not listening.”

Dutch pension giant Pensioenfonds Metaal en Techniek (PMT) is among a group of investors that has had their lawsuit relating to a 2007-2009 share price slump at MGM Resorts International thrown out by a US federal judge, according to reports. Other investors include the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, the Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement and Luzerne County Retirement System.

Aviva Investors has expanded the corporate responsibility aspect of its voting activity to cover the MSCI World Index (previously it covered the FTSE 350 Index and FTSE Eurofirst300 Index). According to parent Aviva’s new corporate responsibility report, there has been a significant increase in votes from 604 in 2010 to 1,876 in 2011 – and more votes where support is withheld. Overall, there was a 13% increase in engagement.

Proxy research firm Manifest Information Services says its ‘Total Remuneration Assessment Matrix’ is now live for global blue-chip companies. It says it’s an independent and objective view of strategy vs. reward.

A group of institutional investors and the Harvard Law School Shareholder Rights Project say they have agreed with some of the largest US companies that the firms will propose annual shareholder votes on director appointments. A total of 42 companies – including names such as Alcoa, BlackRock, and McDonald’s – have agreed to allow shareholders to vote to declassify their boards and put directors up for election each year.

Fund firm F&C says it “shifted to outright opposition” on executive pay in 2011, voting against 20% of all pay votes globally. This compares to 2010 when it abstained on 16%. “In the US, we opposed almost half of all ‘Say on Pay’ proposals put forward by companies,” F&C says in its new Responsible Investment Report.