ExxonMobil, Whole Foods Among Companies Pressured Over Green Credentials

by | Feb 13, 2007

Investors and customers are calling upon companies to provide proof that their business decisions consider issues involving climate change, The New York Times reports. The list iof companies ncludes some strange bedfellows, like ExxonMobil and Whole Foods.

Service Employees International Union has filed a shareholder’s resolution asking Wells Fargo to specify how it is addressing both the risks and market opportunities presented by global warming. The New York City Comptroller’s Office feels the same way about Dominion Resources, an electric power and natural gas company, and Massey Energy, a coal mining company. The Sierra Club Mutual Fund feels that way about the retailer Bed Bath & Beyond, and the Calvert Group about ACE Insurance.

Today, a group of U.S. investors released a climate watch list of companies that it has identified as lagging behind their industry peers in their responses to climate change. According to Ceres, which coordinated the shareholder filings, investors have filed 42 resolutions asking for such information during the 2007 proxy season, up from 31 last year.

The filers collectively manage more than $200 billion in assets.

In addition, Ceres released a list of companies investors filed resolutions against, included are Wells Fargo, TXU, Dominion Resources, Allegheny Energy, Massey Energy, Consol Energy, ACE, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Bed Bath & Beyond, General Motors, Ford, Boston Properties, Centex,  Kroger, Pulte Homes, CVS, Whole Foods, Arch, Sempra, Southern, Hartford, Prudential, Chubb, Chevron, EOG, Ultra Petroleum, and Starwood Hotels.

According to Ceres, Wells Fargo has been unresponsive to shareholder requests for comprehensive emission reduction goals relating to its business.

But in October, Wells Fargo announced that it would purchase renewable energy certificates to support generating 550 million kilowatt-hours of wind energy a year for three years, making Wells Fargo the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the U.S. At the end of last month,  the EPA announced that Wells led its national Top 25 list of green power purchasers.

Surprisingly, Whole Foods is being targetted too. Whole Foods was number two on the EPA’s green power purchaser list. Plenty magazine just named it one of 20 green companies set to change the world.

Some companies, according to the Times article, say they are being faulted not for inaction, but for silence. Michael Callahan, vice president and corporate council of Bed Bath & Beyond, said that his company was “addressing the issues” that climate change poses, but “we have not produced the type of reporting that a group such as Ceres is seeking.”

Earlier this month, Ceres issued a report stating that only 47 percent of the members of the S&P 500 index responded to their survey request asking for information on their climate change risk. The survey request was signed by 225 international pension funds and investors.

This new list issued today could pressure those unresponsive companies to respond to the next survey Ceres sends.

You can see summaries of many of Ceres’ findings on individual companies here.

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