Climate change, stranded assets, and the transition to a low carbon economy pose significant risks and opportunities for institutional investors. Current trends, including the recent oil price collapse, falling renewables prices and clean energy technology innovation, magnify these risks and opportunities. Ceres encourages investors to take action on climate and carbon asset risk, using the strategies that the investor deems appropriate, which can include shareholder engagement and filing shareholder resolutions, full or selective divestment, reducing portfolio carbon intensity, investing in climate solutions, policy advocacy, or some combination these strategies. Ceres believes multiple strategies are necessary to achieve the systemic changes necessary to mitigate these risks.
In a typical proxy season, over 100 climate-related resolutions are filed by institutional investors including PBUCC, other partners at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) and Ceres. In response to these resolutions, many major international corporations have committed to set goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Many companies are also committed to sustainably produced palm oil that does not result in deforestation. Additional corporate commitments have been secured related to sustainability reporting, energy efficiency and carbon asset risk.
PBUCC has long placed special emphasis on “sustainability” in an approach to corporate social responsibility. Whether the issue is good governance, worker safety or the environment, companies with a long view toward sustainability not only make for better investments, but also help to bring about a better and safer world. Climate change is one of those serious, urgent issues that call for an intense and comprehensive effort to create sustainable companies and a sustainable world. For those reasons, PBUCC is engaged in a “stepped up” program of corporate engagement and shareholder activism around climate change. This program is outlined in the document, Raising the Bar Climate Strategy. PBUCC, using this paper as one of many resources, is pursuing a number of initiatives to actively address climate change.
Part of the PB and ICCR response to Climate Change is stepped up shareholder activism and corporate engagement.
Over one hundred shareholder resolutions on climate change were supported by institutional investors, including the Pension Boards in the 2013 season. The average votes for these resolutions were 23.76%. Twenty five resolutions called for companies to provide sustainability reports with respect to fossil fuel use and emissions. The average vote in support of those resolutions was 38.8%. The adoption of the four policies recommended by The IEA below would curb climate change to sustainable goals by 2020 and are the focus of many future resolutions.
The UCC was a founding member of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) 41 years ago. ICCR resides a few floors above the offices of PBUCC, and PBUCC interacts directly and through ICCR to make the impact of 275 interfaith partners and denominations and over $110 billion in assets speak on behalf of social change important to the church.