RI Round-up: how big funds have voted on US ESG proposals

Investor votes on climate change, pharmaceutical prices, executive pay

With the US proxy voting season underway, there have already been a number of votes on shareholder proposals on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues at major US corporations. RI looks at who has voted for what. (Source: fund proxy voting websites)

General Electric (April 27):

CalPERS, Alberta Investment Management Co. (AIMCO), the Florida State Board of Administration, PGGM, Ontario’s OTPP and CPPIB and the Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS) voted against a proposal by the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research on the business risks of climate change. CalPERS said the firm already provides sufficient information on climate change. APG supported the motion.

Duke Energy (May 5):

APG, PGGM and CBIS backed a proposal from As You Sow calling for a report on Duke’s reliance on coal. The latter said it did so as Duke “needs to take additional measures to mitigate the impact of prospective environmental legislation and regulation that could negatively affect its operations”. And APG backed a separate motion calling for a report on Duke’s global warming lobbying, although PGGM and CBIS voted against it. The SBA, the CPPIB and OTPP voted against both proposals.

Occidental Petroleum (May 6):

CalPERS, PGGM, the Florida SBA, OTPP, CPPIB and CBIS voted against the New York State Common Retirement Fund’s proposal requesting a director with environmental qualifications. APG voted for it.

Berkshire Hathaway (April 30):

APG, the Florida SBA, PGGM, CBIS, CPPIB and CalPERS voted for a shareholder proposal on reporting and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. AIMCO and OTPP voted against. CalPERS said that “to ensure sustainable long-term returns, companies should provide accurate and timely disclosure of environmental risks and opportunities”.h6. Marathon Oil (April 27):

PGGM and APG supported the proposal for safety report. “Additional transparency would allow shareholders to independently assess the board’s management of the risks intrinsic to the company’s operations,” said PGGM. CPPIB, the OTPP and the Florida SBA voted against the motion.

Goldman Sachs (May 6):

CalPERS, the Florida SBA, the OTPP and CBIS voted against the NCPPR proposal on climate change business risks. APG supported the motion. CalPERS said it believes the company currently provides sufficient information. CalPERS and the FSBA voted against a shareholder proposal seeking a review of executive compensation at the bank. “CalPERS believes the proposal is unnecessary at this time due to the company’s existing reporting on executive compensation.” CalPERS supported a shareholder proposal calling for a report on political contributions, saying it “believes the additional disclosure on political contributions would benefit shareowners”.

Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer (both April 28):

APG, PGGM, the SBA and AIMCO did not back shareholder proposals on pharmaceutical price restraints at the drugs firms, with AIMCO saying it is “not in the best interests of shareholders”.

Bristol Myers Squibb (May 3); Abbot Labs (April 29):

CalPERS, PGGM and Canada’s CPPIB voted against shareholder proposals on pharmaceutical price restraints at the drugs firms. CalPERS said it “believes business decisions such as these best left to management and the board”. PGGM said it would put Abbot at a “competitive disadvantage”.

Motorola Solutions:

CBIS and PGGM voted for a proposal that the communications firm amend its human rights policies. Canada’s CPPIB and OTPP voted against. PGGM said the motion would “enable evaluation of relationships that could involve the company in human rights or international law concerns, leading to increased (reputational) risks”.