Posts tagged with: Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

It’s all over but the chanting, which seemingly will continue unabated until religious shareholder activists bring energy companies to heel. What the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility hyperbolically billed as “a watershed year” trickled into a puddle of disappointment yesterday for shareholder activists’ climate-change resolutions.

The chanting began outside Dallas’ Morton E. Meyerson Symphony Center and the Chevron Park Auditorium in San Ramon, Calif., prior to the annual shareholder meetings conducted, respectively, by ExxonMobil Corp. and Chevron Corporation. Real chanting, dear readers, which admittedly isn’t equal to Abbie Hoffman attempting to levitate the Pentagon, but it does indicate a certain religious zealotry applied to the contested scientific theory of manmade global warming:

2016 is a watershed year for the fossil fuel industry, in particular, oil and gas giants ExxonMobil and Chevron. Pressure is building in the wake of last year’s historic agreement at COP21 in Paris, where nations of the world, global corporations and leading investors achieved consensus on the need to limit global warming to below 2-degrees celcius to avoid catastrophic planetary impacts. Pending investigations by 17 State Attorneys General is also intensifying public pressure for action. The Papal Encyclical, Laudato Si’, continues to grow in significance, and has done much to underline the clear moral imperative to address the 2 degree warming scenario.

Simultaneously, fossil fuel companies face both a moral and business imperative to rethink their long-term business strategies, as these company face impending regulation that will soon force them into compliance. Faith-based and values investors and members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility have been pressing for this transition for nearly 40 years. This year, proponents of shareholder proposals at both Exxon and Chevron (both on May 25) will be making their cases at the annual meetings of both companies in the hope that shareholders will broadly join them in pressing the companies to change.

Would that the priests, nuns, clergy and other religious affiliated with ICCR exert similar spiritual and physical energy toward championing what philosopher Alex Epstein calls “the moral case for fossil fuels.” Instead, they increase their carbon footprint immeasurably by traipsing around the globe in their buses and planes in efforts to pull the plug on cheap and plentiful energy while lecturing the rest of us on the evils of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and energy-company lobbying. At the same time ICCR extols the imperative of limiting global warming to 2-degrees C by deploying measures that will increase costs – especially for the poor for whom higher prices devour a greater percentage of household assets – while making little to no difference on global temperatures. (more…)

What is it with nuns crusading against corporate lobbying? This fad of recent years has grabbed headlines as orders such as the Sisters of Mercy and the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia gravitated toward political actions as members of shareholder activist group the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. Seems there’s nothing alternately cuter or compelling than a nun “speaking truth” to corporate power as the ICCR nuns do each year in their campaign against lobbying and donations to nonprofit organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council.

How any of this has anything to do with Christian praxis or, more specifically, Roman Catholicism is beyond this writer’s comprehension. But the press covers these pointless resolutions which I presume is part of the nuns’ name and shame plan. Somehow, we’re supposed to connect the nonexistent dots between the nuns’ religious authority and proxy resolutions that would require corporations increase transparency of their lobbying efforts. This is merely a smokescreen for forcing companies to abandon ALEC and quit advocating in their own – and their shareholders’ and clients’ – best interests.

For example, The Charlotte Observer reported last week: (more…)

BCAM-logo2Boston Common Asset Management bills itself as “a leader in global sustainability initiatives.” Why would an investment portfolio management company label itself with the appellation “Common” when it carries such negative baggage? As it turns out, BCAM embraces “common” as something positive.

From the BCAM website:

Beginning in 1634, the Boston Common served as a common pasture for cattle grazing. As a public good, the Common was a space owned by no one but essential to all. We chose the name Boston Common because, like the Common of old, our work stands at the intersection of the economic and social lives of the community.

Never mind all that John Locke hootie-hoot about private property being the cornerstone of a free society. Please ignore all the papal encyclicals from Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum onward that champion private property. Oh, yes, and completely disregard the U.S. Constitution, which codifies private-property rights, and pay no attention to the “tragedy of the commons” which inexplicably is ignored here.

One has to give BCAM credit, however, for consistency. They really, really despise privacy whether it’s property, political donations or corporate lobbying (although it’s also assumed they have no issue with the “penumbra of privacy” suddenly discovered in the U.S. Constitution by members of the Supreme Court after somehow every other legal mind overlooked it for nearly two centuries). Privacy for everything else apparently is subject to eradication in BCAM’s book. (more…)

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.

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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.

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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…)