Strong Showing On Global Warming Resolution At TXU Is "Major Victory" For Religious Shareholder Activists
A global warming proxy resolution that attracted 24 percent of shareholder support today at TXU Corporation (NYSE: TXU) is a "major victory" for religious institutional investor members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), which is pressuring major U.S. utilities to take action on climate-change issues.
Only three percent would have been required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for this first-time proxy resolution to be reintroduced at TXU's annual meeting in 2004. The 24 percent vote in favor of the resolution exceeds the average of 18 percent achieved by global warming resolutions during the 2002 shareholder season, according to data from the Investor Responsibility Research Center. Its unusually strong success is in keeping with the 26.9 percent support level for an identical resolution that was voted on May 23, 2003 at the American Electric Power (AEP) annual meeting.
The TXU resolution was sponsored by Benedictine Sisters of San Antonio, Texas and the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word of Houston, TX, both of which are members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. ICCR played a key role in facilitating the filing of the global warming resolution at TXU and four other major U.S. utilities, in recognition of the fact that these energy producers contribute the largest amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution in their industry category.
ICCR Program Director for Energy and the Environment Leslie Lowe said: "Today's vote at TXU is an important one. It's second in the line of three climate change related shareholder votes at utilities that are failing to deal with the risks associated with global warming. The final vote at Southern on May 28, 2003 will hopefully be the final reminder to these energy companies that they need to recognize, report on and then mitigate climate-related risks to shareholder wealth. Sticking their heads in the sand isn't going to make it go away. Planning for how to deal with it is the key to these companies doing right by shareholders."
Mindy Lubber, Executive Director of Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmental groups that aided the filers, said: "Shareholder concern about climate change is a trend that is rapidly gaining momentum. While some companies are beginning to look at these risks, many others continue to stonewall, taking the question all the way to the annual meeting. With these kinds of results, perhaps they will finally decide that climate risk should be addressed and disclosed in full."
The resolution voted on today at TXU resolution states in part: "We believe that taking early action on reducing emissions and preparing for standards could better position companies over their peers, including being first to market with new high-efficiency and low-emission technologies. Changing consumer preferences, particularly those relating to clean energy, should also be considered. Inaction and opposition to emissions control efforts could expose companies to reputation and brand damage, and regulatory and litigation risk."
The global-warming resolution asks TXU to report to its shareholders on "(a) the economic risks associated with the Company's past, present, and future emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury emissions, and the public stance of the company regarding efforts to reduce these emissions and (b) the economic benefits of committing to a substantial reduction of those emissions related to its current business activities (i.e. potential improvement in competitiveness and profitability)."
During a January 16, 2003 news event, ICCR joined other resolution co-filers and Ceres in filing resolutions at TXU and four other U.S. electric utilities widely known to be the largest CO2-polluting power companies in America. Comparable solutions also were filed through ICCR at the balance of the group: American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), Southern Company (NYSE: SO), Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE: XEL), and Cinergy Corporation (NYSE: CIN). In addition to the TXU, AEP and SO votes, resolutions were withdrawn at Cinergy and Xcel; both resolutions were ruled off the proxy ballot by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility is an association of 275 faith-based institutional investors, including national denominations, religious communities, pension funds, endowments, hospital corporations, economic development funds and publishing companies. ICCR and its members press companies to be socially and environmentally responsible. Each year ICCR-member religious institutional investors sponsor over 100 shareholder resolutions on major social and environmental issues. The combined portfolio value of ICCR's member organizations is estimated to be $110 billion. Visit ICCR on the web at www.iccr.org.
Ceres (www.Ceres.org) is the leading U.S. coalition of environmental, investor, and advocacy groups working together for a sustainable future. The Ceres Coalition is a network of over 80 organizations that includes investors, advisors, and analysts representing over $300 billion in invested capital.