Blog : BOARD TALK
|Posted on May 15, 2017 at 11:55 AM|
Tell me again that the world is not changing in its attitude to climate risk. Investors have their ears to the ground and even the most reluctant to hear appear to be listening and willing to put pressure on business regarding the need for better corporate reporting on an issue that is increasingly being identified as a 'systemic risk.'
As we looked forward to another weekend and prayed for no 'news' to disrupt it, a climate risk shareholder proposal passed at a major US oil and gas company - for the first time. What's more, it was supported by BlackRock - another first.
On Friday May 12th, a proposal led by a group of investors asking Occidental Petroleum to conduct an assessment of the long-term impacts of climate change on its business went to a vote for a second time and passed with strong support from investors.
The investors included the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. CalPERS and Wespath Investment Management and were suported by the US-based Nathan Cummings Foundation - a national grantmaking organization that has made $425 million in grants over the past 25 years focusing on finding solutions to the climate crisis and growing inequality -
“Today’s historic vote puts the oil and gas industry on notice – the climate is changing and so are investor expectations of how companies should respond. Occidental Petroleum’s Board must respond to shareholders’ show of support for increased information on the company’s prospects in a carbon-constrained world. We look forward to the company’s response and will work with our partner, Wespath Investment Management, to make sure this issue stays on their radar screen” said Laura Campos, Nathan Cummings Foundation Director of Corporate and Political Accountability, at the time.
Last year BlackRock, a major Occidental investor, opposed a similar resolution, which failed get a majority of support from investors.
BlackRock explained the switch in a statement saying that despite talks with Occidental it remained concerned "about the lack of discernable improvements to the company's reporting practices" on climate issues.
The resolution received more than 50% of the votes at Occidental’s shareholder meeting in Houston on Friday, according to spokesmen for the company and Calpers.