Last week, investors announced the filing of 66 climate and energy related shareholder resolutions with 41 coal, electric power and oil companies in the 2011 proxy season.
This action makes 2011 a record year for shareholder engagement in the energy sector, even as the U.S. government refuses to take action on climate change.
The filings pressure companies regarding a wide range of issues, including the risks and opportunities from oil sands extraction in Canada, hydraulic fracturing in the U.S., global water scarcity, sustainable palm oil sourcing, overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and usage of renewable energy.
The resolutions were filed by some of the nation’s largest public pension funds, foundations and religious, labor and other institutional investors.
“Challenges facing the energy sector are greater and more complex than ever,” said Mindy S. Lubber, director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) and president of Ceres, which is helping to coordinate the filings. “Investors are concerned that companies are placing too much emphasis on higher-risk, carbon-intensive strategies and too little focus on viable clean energy opportunities, such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and cleaner fuels.”
According to Forbes, the GOP’s proposed budget would cut funding for solar, wind, wave, geothermal and other renewable-energy technologies by nearly $800 million.
This potential reduction in government funding and incentives, which a majority of energy industry professionals believe “trump markets in driving up energy efficiency uptake by consumers,” has many companies and investors bracing for the worst.
The surge in shareholder resolution filings came just a day after the consulting group Mercer released a report finding that climate change could increase portfolio risk by 10 percent over the next 20 years.
For the first time ever, investors have also filed 11 resolutions requesting that executive compensation be directly linked to sustainability metrics.
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