Recent Advances in Shareholder Advocacy

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.

Critics of shareholder advocacy in oil and gas often ask for examples of carbon reserves that have been abandoned or depleted. Dialogues with oil and gas companies have indeed resulted in changes in policy by companies leading to abandonment of carbon reserves. ConocoPhillips has made an ongoing and significant commitment to abandoning carbon and carbon exploration without the free, informed consent of indigenous peoples in exploration areas such as the Amazon Basin, Western Canada, and Alaska.

More recently, dialogues with Statoil resulted in the closing of their Tar Sands operations in Alberta, Canada, a multi-billion dollar project.

Significant gains have been made in human rights through shareholder advocacy and corporate dialogues conducted by ICCR, in which PBUCC participates, along with other institutional investors. Whether it is participation in the Investor Network on Climate Risk, or the Bangladesh Accords on Supply Chain Worker Rights, or voting over a thousand proxies a year on significant issues such as board diversity, environment, and human rights, PBUCC is at the forefront of social justice witness on behalf of our members, and the United Church of Christ.