Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Warming-wary investors press companies

Bloomberg, via the CERES website: Shareholders filed a record 57 climate-related petitions with U.S. companies this year as they pressed for a higher value on the environment, the Ceres coalition of investors and green activists said. A global-warming resolution at Consol Energy Inc., the third-biggest U.S. coal producer, was backed by almost 40 percent of shareholders, the highest vote ever for this type of petition, Boston-based Ceres said today. In 2008, 26 resolutions were proposed at companies that included ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp. and won support from an average 24 percent of shareholders, Ceres said.

Some U.S. investors want more information on climate-change risks and have petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission to force companies to disclose global warming risks to profit. The vote at Pittsburgh-based Consol impressed Dan Bakal, director of electric power programs for Ceres, which says its members include 72 institutional investors with total assets of more than $7.3 trillion.

"I was a bit surprised,'' Bakal said in an interview yesterday. "Management is sending a clear signal that they don't think this is a reasonable request and management tends to control a significant number of shares, so to see a 40 percent vote does send a pretty strong message.''

Twenty five shareholder resolutions were withdrawn after companies, including Ford Motor Co., the second-largest U.S. automaker, made climate-change commitments, Ceres said. Ford agreed in April to reduce by 30 percent new vehicle greenhouse- gas emissions linked to climate change by 2020…

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