Key Call to Action: Disclosure of Climate Change-related Corporate Lobbying
For 2021, Portico co-filed 12 resolutions with companies in which it invests. A key topic: Corporate lobbying in opposition to climate change mitigation strategies.
Many shareholder groups called on energy companies last year to publicly disclose their lobbying efforts because:
- Opposition to mitigation efforts (like the Paris Agreement) can create regulatory, reputational, financial and legal risks for companies
- The physical risks of climate change can increase economic instability for companies as well as uncertainty and volatility for shareholders
Erin Ripperger, Portico’s senior socially responsible investment analyst, explained how Portico focuses its advocacy efforts. “Shareholders typically file resolutions when a company not only demonstrates behavior posing risk to investors but also refuses to enter into constructive dialogue with its investors. Portico joins resolutions based on the financial interests of its plan members with guidance from ELCA social teachings and policies.”
Of the 12 companies targeted by Portico and other co-filers, eight (67%) agreed to take positive action, giving co-filers enough confidence to withdraw their resolutions. One of these targeted companies was AIG. Its leaders agreed to additional disclosure of lobbying efforts and other climate change-related commitments and avoided a shareholder vote on the resolution at the company’s annual meeting.
Four companies did not respond positively, including three refusing to disclose their climate change-related lobbying activity. At the 2021 annual meeting for each of these companies, a strong majority of shareholders voted in favor of the resolution — a significant accomplishment since resolutions with majority “for” votes tend to pressure company leaders into constructive dialogue and action.
- Phillips 66 — 80% “for” vote
- United Airlines — 65% “for” vote
- ExxonMobil — 64% “for” vote
Looking Ahead to 2022
Given 2021 successes, Portico is keeping the pressure on in 2022. In conjunction with other shareholder advocacy groups, it co-filed 12 resolutions, three of which call for climate change-related lobbying disclosure — from American Airlines, and, once again, from AIG and ExxonMobil.
An early 2022 success related to racial equity: In response to a resolution calling Tyson Foods to conduct an independent racial equity audit and disclose the findings, Tyson committed to complete the audit and continue to dialogue with its shareholders, and co-filers were able to withdraw the resolution.
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