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.
Here are the highlights of that work since 1989 specifically related to climate change. These represent but a sampling of the many actions taken by ICCR since 1989. (Simultaneously, PBUCC and ICCR also worked on numerous other issues related to human rights, clean water, human trafficking, corporate governance and a host of other issues.)
- 1989 – The first ICCR resolution referencing “planetary (global) warming” is filed at General Electric.
- 1992 – “Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Global Greenhouse Warming.” Shareholders request a report describing “company-wide policies, targets, plans and programs to reduce those (CO2) emissions annually; adoption of cost-effective energy efficiency measures and their contributions to reducing CO2 emissions.”
- 1998 – “Financial Exposure to Climate Change.” Shareholders request “the Board report on the company’s anticipated liabilities due to property loss and/or healthcare costs potentially caused by climate change.”
- 2000 – Shareholders request that “the Company unconditionally cancel any plans for drilling in Coastal Plain, 1002 Area, of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and immediately stop the expenditure of any corporate funds targeted to achieve this objective.”
- 2001 – Shareholders request that “the Board of Directors report on the gas emissions from the company’s operations and products, including (i) what the company is doing in research and/or action to reduce those and ameliorate the problem, and (ii) the financial exposure of the company and its shareholders due to the likely costs of reducing those emissions for damages associated with climate change.”
- 2004 – Shareholders request the Board “adopt a company policy to promote renewable energy sources into the company’s energy mix. Shareholders shall be kept advised regularly as to the ways the Company is moving from its existing over-dependence on fossil-fuels to the promotion and marketing of renewables.”
- 2005 – Shareholders request “the Board report on how the company will meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets of those countries in which it operates which have adopted the Kyoto Protocol.”
- 2005 – Shareholders request that “the Board report on all the company’s lobbying efforts and financial expenditures intended to influence government regulation of fuel economy standards. The report should present the business case for these activities in light of long-term economic trends and the company’s widely publicized plans to increase the fuel economy and reduce the environmental impact of its vehicles.”
- 2012 – Shareholders request that “the Board adopt quantitative goals, based on current technologies, for reducing total greenhouse gas emissions from the company’s operations.”
- 2013 – Shareholders request that “the Board review the exposure and vulnerability of the company’s facilities and operations to climate risk and issue a report that reviews and estimates the costs of the disaster risk management and adaptation steps the company is taking and plans to take, to change and to increase resilience to the potential adverse impacts of climate extremes.”
Examples of results of voting corporate resolutions:
- 2002 – Climate change resolutions receive votes of 20%-30%, signaling a shift in shareholder perception that climate change is now an ecological issue with profound financial ramifications.
- 2010 – British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, occurs in the Gulf of Mexico. Led by Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), ICCR members join a global investor coalition that begins an ongoing campaign to press BP for increased risk management controls.
- 2011 – ICCR members file 13 shareholder resolutions addressing the financial risk of coal-fire energy generation, and the hazards of coal mining and waste disposal. ICCR resolution at Ameren (Union Electric) calling for safer coal ash waste disposal wins 52% of the vote.
- 2012 – ICCR members file 10 resolutions addressing the community and environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing. ICCR and the Investor Invironmental Health Network (IEHN) release “Extracting the Facts: An Investor Guide to Disclosing Risks from Hydraulic Fracturing Operations.”
- 2012 – After intense shareholder pressure, William Castell, Chair of BP’s Safety, Environment and Ethics Committee steps down, and BP announces that it will appoint an independent expert to oversee implementation of safety improvements in the Gulf to improve accountability, in compliance with a request made by CBIS, other ICCR members, and their allies.
And, the work continues.
(These facts were taken from the The Corporate Examiner, a quarterly publication of ICCR that looks at the practices of U.S. corporations.)