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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Investors Achieve Strong Results on Climate Change, Supply Chains, Water Risks During 2013 Proxy Season

This is great news to us and a perfect fit to our mission of bringing you "the business side of green".

We've done many shows on sustainable investing--which you can find at our site, agree with this report that major companies, who we think are key to improving our environment while keeping an economy humming, are keenly aware of this trend of punishing those businesses that do not respect and adhere to very high standards of corporate social responsibility.  Too bad investors did not adapt such standards much earlier.

You, too, can help responsible companies prosper by supporting them as both an investor and consumer.

Let's also keep pressure on the financial community to up the CSR ante even more.

Here's the story:

"Investors achieved noteworthy victories during this year’s shareholder proxy season, with a near record 110 shareholder resolutions filed with 94 U.S. companies on corporate sustainability challenges such as climate change, supply chain issues and water-related risks.

Shareholders achieved numerous successes within the energy sector, as described in a previous press release issued two weeks ago. Among resolutions filed with other major U.S. manufacturers, consumer brands and service providers, many investors requested board oversight of corporate sustainability issues and comprehensive disclosure via sustainability reports. Overall, investors withdrew more than 40 of the 110 resolutions after the companies responded affirmatively to their specific requests.

Highlights of the 2013 proxy season include:

  • Dunkin Brands, Kroger and Starbucks agreed to source 100 percent certified sustainable palm oil to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and protect workers, rainforests and species.
  •  Home improvement giant Lowe’s as well as oil and gas companies Denbury Resources and Range Resources, and also United Parcel Service (UPS) committed to board oversight of environmental and social matters.
  •  Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, EMC, Gap, Kohls, Nike, Texas Instruments, Target and Xerox agreed to encourage or require sustainability reporting by their suppliers.
  • Coach Inc, Ralph Lauren, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and nine other companies agreed to issue comprehensive sustainability reports.
  • Stryker, a large medical equipment manufacturer, agreed to set greenhouse gas reduction goals
“Investors are ever more mindful of escalating environmental and social risks and want answers on how companies are dealing with them,” said Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres, which helped coordinate the shareholder filings. “This year’s proxy results showed strong progress on wide-ranging sustainability challenges such as water availability risks, supply chain vulnerabilities and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Filers of the resolutions include some of the nation’s largest public pension funds, such as the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the New York State and New York City Comptrollers’ Offices; socially responsible investors such as Calvert Investments, Trillium Asset Management and Walden Asset Management; and religious, labor and other institutional investors, who collectively manage more than $500 billion in assets.

A recent analysis by Ernst & Young shows that environmental and social shareholder proposals account for about 40 percent of all resolutions filed with U.S. companies. Just three years ago, environmental and social resolutions made up only 30 percent of proposals.

During the 2013 season, Ceres-tracked resolutions achieved results in several key areas:

Responsible Sourcing: Palm Oil and GHGs

In 2013, investors continued to focus attention on a rapidly growing source of greenhouse gas emissions - palm oil - that is used in about 50 percent of all packaged food products in supermarkets today. Oil palm trees are cultivated primarily on plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as other countries with tropical forests, by clear-cutting and burning carbon-storing rainforest and peat lands. According to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), palm oil accounted for 65 percent of produced and traded vegetable oils globally by 2006. As this statistic continues to rise, palm oil cultivation results in significant emissions of greenhouse gases and endangers rare species such as orangutans..."



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