Walden is an active shareholder advocate on behalf of its clients. As reported in their Annual Impact Report, in 2017 Walden engaged 148 companies on a number of ESG issues, and observed demonstrated improvement in 51 companies – achieving an “impact rate” of 34%. Walden considers engagement to be successful when progress is made towards: better corporate policies, more sustainable business practices, and increased transparency.
In 2017 Walden and other investors made headlines by successfully filing resolutions with several large asset managers. Subsequent to the withdrawal of resolutions at BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase, and Vanguard, these asset managers announced important changes to their approach to proxy voting and to engagement with companies, particularly on the topics of climate change and board diversity. This was one of numerous factors that led to a majority vote in support of a resolution at ExxonMobil, after which the company agreed to disclose the potential impact on its operations and the value of its assets of regulations and technology to address climate change.
Moving Corporations Towards Meaningful Climate Action
The Trump Administration dramatically shifted federal policy on climate change in 2017 with its announcement of the U.S. withdrawal from the global Paris climate agreement and the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, the foundation of the former Obama Administration’s efforts to curb U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These actions and others underscore the importance of investor engagement to encourage companies to be a leading force for aggressive action to mitigate the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.
We encourage companies to adopt science-based GHG goals, entailing global reduction of GHG emissions by 55% by 2050 and reaching net zero emissions between 2050 and 2100.
Walden, both individually in company dialogues and as the leader of a collaborative initiative with ICCR that advocated science-based GHG goals, is pleased to report substantial progress as a number of portfolio companies committed to new goals in 2017:
American Express—reduce absolute GHG emissions 31% and 85% by 2021 and 2040, respectively, from 2011 levels
ConocoPhillips—reduce GHG emissions intensity (per unit of output) 5-15% by 2030 from a 2017 baseline
Hubbell—increase energy efficiency 6% by 2020 relative to the 2016 level
Merck—reduce absolute GHG emissions 40% by 2025 from a 2015 baseline (and procuring 50% or greater of purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025 and 100% by 2040)
Oracle—reduce absolute GHG emissions 20% by 2020 and 65% by 2050 from the 2015 level
PNC Financial Services—reduce absolute GHG emissions 75% by 2035 from a 2009 baseline (including a 50% renewable energy goal)