US mutual funds’ support for climate resolutions reaches new high – Ceres

DWS stands out for backing all resolutions, but Vanguard a laggard

Large US mutual fund groups’ support for climate change resolutions at companies that were filed by shareholders grew to a new high last year, according to sustainability advocacy group Ceres.

The backing reached 29%, up from 27% in 2012 and about 50% higher than 2007’s voting support levels, Ceres said. It tracks 42 fund firms.

Deutsche Bank’s DWS Investments, Ceres said, led the way by supporting all such resolutions last year. Until 2011, DWS had never cast a single vote in support of climate-related resolutions, the group added.

But nine fund firms failed to support even a single climate-related resolution in 2013. These were named as BlackRock, BNY Mellon, Columbia, Fidelity, ING, Lord Abbett, Pioneer, Putnam and Vanguard. The latter is the only provider that has never cast a single vote in support of a climate-related resolution in the 10 years of the survey.Fund groups that have upped their support include Schroders, Virtus, Allianz, Dimensional and State Street Global Advisors. The analysis was commissioned by Ceres from, the proxy-voting researcher founded by former Corporate Library researcher and Cambridge University Fellow Jackie Cook.

In 2013, 50 climate-related resolutions were withdrawn before going to vote after the companies responded affirmatively to the shareholder requests. The Ceres mutual fund study tracked 39 climate resolutions that went to vote during the 2013 proxy season.

Ceres says that, for the most part, mutual fund companies/asset managers continue to address all social and environmental issues in a “single paragraph, if at all”. But the proxy voting guidelines for DWS, Goldman Sachs Asset Management and JP Morgan Asset Management stand out for the clear recognition they give to the issue.