Category: Fossil Fuel Divestment

exxon_-_pat_daly
The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, shareholder activists of the corporate God-fly variety, are gearing up for the May 25 ExxonMobil Corporation annual general meeting. The ICCR agenda isn’t about maximizing shareholder value, but seems far more intent on reducing it.

For the record, your writer possesses no financial stake in ExxonMobil, but if he did it’s certain he’d be upset mightily at ICCR’s efforts to hobble the industry giant and send stock prices plummeting even further. The religious-left activists of ICCR have submitted seven proxy resolutions aimed at ExxonMobil this season. Aiming to protect the interests of all its investors, the company challenged the resolutions, but was overruled by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. According to the ICCR website:

Included in this group of resolutions are calls for greater disclosure of lobbying activities that may be tied to the types of climate change denial campaigns currently under investigation, as well as a call for board expertise on environmental issues and a resolution asking that the company acknowledge the “moral imperative of limiting global warming to 2 celsius”, the threshold participants at the COP21 climate talks agreed could not be exceeded if we are to safeguard our planet’s future. Another resolution asks that the company assess the risks of their carbon assets within the context of this carbon-constrained future.

(more…)

Video source: The Harry Read Me File. More clips from the hearing here.

On Wednesday, the Rev. Robert A. Sirico, co-founder and president of the Acton Institute, testified at a hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public works. The hearing aimed “to examine the role of environmental policies on access to energy and economic opportunity … ” A report at the Energy & Environment news service said the hearing was “full of fireworks.” It was convened by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a sharp critic of the Obama administration’s climate policies.

“The true purpose of the president’s climate polices have nothing to do with protecting the interests of the America people,” Inhofe said. “Instead, they are meant to line the pocketbooks of his political patrons while promoting his self-proclaimed climate legacy.”

Democrats on the committee pushed back against those arguments. But it was majority witness Alex Epstein, the author of “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” who caused much of the contention at the hearing.

Epstein testified that rising carbon dioxide levels benefit plants and Americans. He defended fossil fuels as a driver of stability and prosperity in an ever-changing climate.

“The president’s anti-fossil-fuel policies would ruin billions of lives economically and environmentally,” he said, “depriving people of energy and therefore making them more vulnerable to nature’s ever-present climate danger.”

In a follow up report, the news service highlighted testy exchanges between Democrat members of the committee and Sirico: (more…)

dead_gadflyIt’s been a while since your writer began reporting on religious shareholder activism in this space. The term “religious” is used here to describe the vocations of the priests, nuns, clergy and other religious involved in shareholder activism – rather than serving as an accurate descriptor for essentially progressive political and social activities. These shareholder activists pursue agendas having little to do with the true nature of the faiths they no doubt believe, but too often relegate beneath their pursuit of liberal causes.

The above occurred to your correspondent upon following a link on the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility homepage. A quick click later, I was immersed in the progressive banalities of Rev. Jim Conn, “Spring Awakening: Uniting Against Climate Change” over at the website Capital & Main: Investigating Power & Politics. Rev. Conn’s essay champions what he perceives as a Risorgimento – a resurgent unification of political and social efforts. In essence, the Risorgimento Conn envisions applies to mitigating climate change by any means necessary, including shareholder activism as practiced by ICCR:

People with surplus incomes have been investing ever since the first stock market was invented, but now networks of socially responsible investors have gained clout in the marketplace. The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment acts as a research tool and clearinghouse of information for such funds. Their list includes a number of regular mutual fund companies that have established green or socially responsible investment services. (more…)

This past Friday, I blogged about the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s recent decision to allow a vaguely worded proxy resolution proceed to a vote. The resolution was submitted by, among others, members of the religious shareholder activist group the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

The ICCR resolution calls upon ExxonMobil Corporation to take action intended to mitigate climate change. ExxonMobil requested the SEC deny the ICCR resolution on the grounds it was based mainly on nonspecific greenhouse-gas reduction targets and unclear strategies to achieve them.

Since that post, I received an email from a subject matter expert that helps place the SEC’s decision in perspective. Legal Director Allen Dickerson from the Center for Competitive Politics, a free-speech nonprofit, commented:

The SEC’s decision was routine. It is extraordinarily easy, under U.S. securities laws, to put a proposal before a company’s shareholders, and politically active groups have done so with increasing frequency in recent years. But these policy proposals are seldom adopted. Shareholders generally want corporations to maximize the value of their investment, as management is legally obligated to do, and rebuff attempts to turn the annual meeting into an extension of the broader political arena.

(more…)

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission determined March 22 that ExxonMobil Corporation must for the first time ever allow a vote to proceed on a proxy shareholder resolution submitted by members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. ExxonMobil had attempted to block the resolution with the SEC on the grounds it was vaguely written, the company’s current business practices already aligned with the ICCR resolution and current U.S. regulations. Because any plans for climate-change mitigation in the near future inherently remains vague until specific policies are enacted, the company argued, the SEC should honor ExxonMobil’s No Action Letter on the resolution.

The resolution was filed by ICCR members the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, NJ, and other faith-based investment groups. If passed, the resolution would require ExxonMobil adopt a “Policy to Limit Global Warming to 2°C.” The passive-aggressive resolution even goes so far as to accuse the company of funding “climate denial” while at the same time sending the company hunting for unicorns:

As a large GHG [greenhouse gas] emitter with carbon intensive products, ExxonMobil should robustly support the global framework to address climate change resulting from the 21st Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015. Constructive engagement on climate policy is especially important given Exxon’s historical role in financing climate denial and misinformation campaigns on climate change. Failing to address this could present reputational risk for ExxonMobil. In contrast to ExxonMobil, ten oil industry peers including Total, Shell, BP, and Saudi Aramco, and business leaders in other industries, support an international agreement to limit warming to 2°C. (more…)

Your humble writer takes no pleasure in reminding readers that he told them so, but a post from last December now seems prescient. The post began:

In the wake of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, or COP21), so-called “religious” shareholder activists are intent on ruining investments, crashing the economy and doubling down on their efforts to promote energy poverty throughout the world.

At that time, focus was on the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and the Church Investors Group, but now comes other groups of religious shareholder activists, As You Sow and Boston Common Asset Management (with a little help from their fellow religious friends at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Trillium Asset Management, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia and Walden Asset Management), intent on making hay off COP21 pronouncements by spreading misinformation on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the group’s latest report, Disclosing the Facts: Transparency and Risk in Hydraulic Fracturing. Hoo boy.

Suffice it to say the report’s disclaimer is longer and far more detailed than those featured in pharmaceutical advertisements: (more…)

The progressive shareholder activists over at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility have made it one of their core missions to move companies in which they invest away from fossil fuels – and bankrupting them if necessary. To achieve this goal, according to their website,

ICCR members seek to move companies along a “hierarchy of impact” that will gradually reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and advance their progress towards greater sustainability. Understanding its importance in driving the energy transition, ICCR members actively support climate legislation and regulation from the global to local level and seek greater disclosure around companies’ lobbying and political activites [sic] to ensure that they are consistent with stated policies on environmental issues. In addition, ICCR members are working to help educate the investment community as well as the corporations we work with about opportunities in climate financing that will help to build the coming green economy.

Readers will note that ICCR members seek legal and political enforcement to curtail or eliminate completely the use of fossil fuels, including circumventing First Amendment rights reinforced by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. Additionally, they have a powerful ally in the White House who warned us all in 2008 his proposed energy policy would bankrupt the coal industry when he stated as a candidate for his first term: “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

That warning has come to pass. According to an editorial titled “The Carnage in Coal Country” from the Wall Street Journal early last week: (more…)