Hartford Insurance and Prudential Financial Commit to Climate Change Disclosure
Investor Withdraws Climate Change Shareholder Resolutions
Calvert, one of the nation’s largest families of socially responsible mutual funds, announced today that it has withdrawn climate change shareholder resolutions filed with two leading insurance companies: The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. and Prudential Financial Inc.
The two companies agreed to improve their public reporting and disclosure regarding the potential financial risks they face from climate change and strategies for mitigating those risks. The companies specifically agreed to respond to a climate risk disclosure questionnaire sent to companies each year by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and to disclose their assessment of the business impacts of climate change.
A growing number of investors believe that climate change will have material impacts on most companies, including insurers. Climate change has the potential to affect virtually all segments of the insurance business, including coverage of damage to property, crops, business interruptions, life and health. The industry could also be affected through the large investment portfolios managed by insurance companies
"Climate change will have far-reaching impacts on insurance companies, including higher claims and impacts on the stocks and bonds in their investment portfolios," said Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres, a leading coalition of investors and environmental groups that helped coordinate the shareholder resolutions. "That's why Calvert and other investors are pressing insurers to boost their attention to this issue. The positive response from Hartford and Prudential Financial to growing investor concerns about climate change is very encouraging."
“Insurance is the world’s largest industry with core competencies in risk management and loss prevention, so it is crucial that insurance companies disclose their exposure to climate change impact and also explore the significant business opportunities becoming available” said Baljit Wadhwa, social research analyst at Calvert. “Calvert believes that early actions to identify the risks and opportunities that climate change presents can pay off. Forward-looking companies are developing climate change strategies and in turn, integrating them with overall business strategies and management processes. Calvert believes that by identifying leaders such as Prudential Financial and The Hartford early, our portfolios can benefit as well.”
The resolutions with Hartford and Prudential were among 42 climate-related shareholder resolutions filed with U.S. companies as part of the 2007 proxy season, the highest number of resolutions ever. The resolutions, coordinated by Ceres and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), were filed with oil producers, electric power companies, coal providers, automakers, insurance companies banks, retail chains and major builders.
“As a responsible corporate citizen and as a major underwriter of risk, it's appropriate for The Hartford to address the issue of climate change rigorously and comprehensively," said Neal S. Wolin, executive vice president and general counsel of The Hartford. "We appreciate Calvert's commitment to the issue, and look forward to participating in the Carbon Disclosure Project and to articulating The Hartford's views on the challenges and opportunities related to climate change."
“Prudential Financial recognizes the importance of addressing the business impact of climate change,” said Kathleen Gibson, vice-president and corporate governance officer at Prudential. “Our company is not in the property and casualty line of insurance, nor does the company have high greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, we will be including on our website a section that addresses Prudential's policies, programs and performance on the environment generally and inform shareholders that we are and will continue to analyze the risks that environmental issues such as climate change may have on our business.”
Read: 2007 Proxy Season - Resolution Tracker