Trump pullback on environmental and social issues a “significant headwind” – Walden AM

SRI firm releases third-quarter engagement report to clients

US socially responsible investment house Walden Asset Management says the rollback of US environmental and social policies under the Trump administration is a “significant headwind” to its work –- though it was optimistic about its “positive engagement” with companies despite the change of tone at the federal level.

“The Trump administration is literally scrubbing the words ‘climate change’ from the federal government’s lexicon,” Walden says in its latest engagement report.

It continues: “The US Department of Agriculture prefers the term ‘extreme weather,’ while references to ‘reduce greenhouse gases’ have morphed into ‘build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency’.

“Much worse, federal-level climate policy is being rescinded at an astounding pace. In this context, state-level policy action on climate change is of paramount importance.”

The report, which details the firm’s activities in the third-quarter, goes on to state: “The pullback of US policies addressing critical environmental and social issues is a significant headwind to our work.

“Yet we believe that our positive engagement experience provides optimism that many companies are prepared to help fill the void by assuming greater ESG leadership.”Walden is the SRI arm of Boston Trust & Investment Management, the Boston-based firm with more than $7bn under management.

“Literally scrubbing the words ‘climate change’ from the federal government’s lexicon”

In August it withdrew a shareholder resolution at Vanguard, which it had engaged on its proxy voting practices, specifically challenging voting records on shareholder resolutions addressing significant social and environmental issues.

The new report details other highlights during the quarter, including testimony given by Aaron Ziulkowski, Manager of ESG Integration, to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy in Massachusetts.

It supported a new legislative tool known as a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which requires electricity suppliers to supply a minimum amount of power through renewable energy. Twenty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia have an RPS in place and Walden says they’re an important driver of the deployment of renewable energy.