2008 Advocacy Priorities
For the 2007-2008 shareholder resolution season (which roughly parallels an academic year), Trillium Asset Management Corporation (“Trillium”) has filed 18 shareholder proposals addressing a wide range of environmental and social justice concerns. Thirteen resolutions on which we are acting as lead* filer are highlighted in this article. All the proposals we are involved in are posted on our web site.
Among its Wall Street peers, Bank of America (BAC)‘s internal greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals look good upon a first read: the bank has pledged that emissions from its own offices by will decline 7 percent from 2004 levels by 2008. Yet the bank finances GHG-intensive coal power plants and mountain top removal (MTR) coal mining projects that feed them. MTR destroys rivers, streams and habitats as well as the tops of mountains. We are asking BAC to observe a moratorium on all financing of MTR coal mining and the construction of new coal-burning power plants that emit carbon dioxide.
Trillium and Green Century Capital Management are pioneering the first oil sands resolutions at ConocoPhillips and Chevron, respectively. Oil sands are large tracts of sand and rock material beneath Canada’s dense boreal forests that reportedly hold over a trillion barrels of crude oil. The extraction process requires volumes greater water and energy than ordinary oil drilling, endangering the regions ecology and preventing Canada from meeting its Kyoto Protocol commitments. Our resolutions press the two companies to report on the extensive environmental damage that will result from their expanding oil sands operations, and the ensuing impacts on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water resources, biodiversity and indigenous populations.
In the utility sector, we are pressing Alliant Energy to adopt incentives that will enable it to profit by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by improving its customers’ energy efficiency. Alliant is set to build a new 630-megawatt coal-fired power plant that will emit several million tons of carbon dioxide per year.
For the fifth consecutive year, we are continuing to press Chevron on its pollution legacy in the Ecuadorian rainforest and elsewhere. This year, the New York City pension funds became the lead filer of the resolution we filed last year that asks Chevron’s Board to report on the policies that guide how the company assesses host country laws and regulations, and their ability to adequately protect human health and the environment.
On the topic of environmental health, we are again asking Dow Chemical to establish an independent scientific panel to research and report on the links between Dow pesticides and asthma, in collaboration with the Pesticide Action Network North America.
Working with a shareholder-NGO coalition that formed in response to the massacres in Darfur, Trillium has filed resolutions at JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, which are among the largest shareholders in foreign oil companies whose business with Sudan finances the government’s mass atrocities in Darfur. We’ve also been in discussion with Citigroup. We’re asking these Wall Street firms to press the foreign oil companies to persuade the Sudanese government to stop obstructing the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces in accordance with UN Resolution 1769. We are also in dialogue with Schlumberger, an oil services firm with operations in Sudan.
Closer to home, Trillium is leading a large coalition of shareholders in a long-running effort to get Home Depot to disclose its Equal Employment Opportunity data (a detail of workforce composition by race, sex and rank). This data disclosure is viewed as an effective incentive to spur companies to develop programs to break glass-ceiling barriers.
Since 1995, Trillium has been a leader in promoting corporate sexual orientation nondiscrimination policies. We have filed resolutions at Expeditors International and Pentair, the only two transportation stocks in our universe who lack such policies, to amend their written equal employment opportunity statement to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. We are also joining the New York City pension funds in re-filing a sexual orientation policy resolution at ExxonMobil — for the 11th year, but who’s counting? — that asks the company to adopt nondiscrimination protections for “gender identity” as well.**
Shareholders campaigns over the past three years have spurred corporations to adopt a critical piece of governance reform in the form of detailed disclosure of political donations. Relying on publicly available data does not provide a complete picture of political expenditures. Shareholders need complete disclosure to be able to fully evaluate the political use of corporate assets. Ford Motor and General Motors have yet to improve their transparency, prompting our shareholder resolutions asking each company to disclose its political contributions and payments to trade associations and other tax-exempt organizations (We are the lead filer at Ford and are co-filing with Catholic Healthcare West at GM). We are also in dialogue with Dominion Resources and several other companies in this area.
* We often file in coalition with other social investors, and as the word implies, the “lead” filer takes on the organizing role.
Trillium is the sub-advisor for Green Century Capital Management’s Balanced Fund.
** Statutes usually define gender identity as “having or being perceived as having a gender related identity or expression whether or not stereotypically associated with a person’s assigned sex at birth.” Persons in need of such protections often include (but are not limited to) those who are physically transitioning to, or choose to present themselves as, the opposite of their sex at birth.