Guest Blog By Green Business Network Member: Leslie Samuelrich, President, Green Century Capital Management
As the 2022 proxy season winds down, we at Green Century° are excited to share that nearly 30 major corporations have committed to action in response to our shareholder proposals on environmental issues. Furthermore, several of these proposals achieved record-breaking shareholder votes over the last few months: Green Century has won more majority votes on environmental proposals than any other shareholder this season.
Here are some highlights from our work pushing the world’s largest companies to reduce their environmental impact.
Preserving a National Treasure
Chevron* has abandoned plans to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and ended its involvement in the Arctic following two successive shareholder proposals from Green Century. The Arctic Refuge is often described as “America’s Serengeti” due to its dizzying array of wildlife, including polar bears, caribou, muskoxen, and millions of migratory birds.
Cutting Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Kroger*, America’s largest grocery chain, will set science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its full value chain, agreeing to the request of our shareholder proposal, which called on Kroger to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The food system represents a third of all planet-warming emissions, so supply chain emissions reductions from grocers are essential.
Nearly 70% of Costco* shareholders voted in favor of a similar Green Century proposal in January. In response, Costco expedited its timeline for disclosing and reducing supply chain emissions and announced its first operational emissions reduction targets. Similar Green Century proposals received remarkable 88.5% and 87.6% shareholder votes at US Foods* and Builders FirstSource* this spring.
Reducing Plastic Pollution
After Green Century co-led a proposal urging the company to reduce its reliance on single-use plastic, Coca-Cola* announced in February that it had set a first-of-its-kind goal to distribute at least 25% of all beverages sold globally in refillable or returnable containers by 2030.
Mattel* announced in April that it plans to reduce its use of plastic packaging, fulfilling an agreement with Green Century. The company, which makes a wide array of popular toys from Barbie dolls to Hot Wheels cars, revealed a new goal to reduce plastic packaging by 25% per product by 2030.
Lowe’s* agreed in March to accelerate its efforts to eliminate deforestation and the logging of old growth forests from its supply chains. Lowe’s is one of the world’s largest home improvement retailers and a major purchaser of wood. Lowe’s largest competitor, Home Depot,* would not agree to take action on a similar proposal, so Green Century brought it to a vote and 65% of the company’s shareholders instructed it to follow in Lowe's footsteps in May.
Securing the Right to Repair
Apple* will provide individual consumers greater access to materials needed to repair its products, starting with the iPhone 12 and 13. Apple’s announcement came on the same day that Green Century had to decide whether to press forward on a right-to-repair shareholder proposal that was putting the company under pressure. Apple has historically resisted allowing consumers to perform repairs, so the announcement was a notable reversal for the company. Apple launched the program in April.
Ending New Fossil Fuel Projects
Chubb,* Travelers,* and The Hartford,* three of the largest property and casualty insurers, faced shareholder proposals in May as part of Green Century’s new “Insure a Fossil Free Future” campaign, which aims to stop new coal, oil, and gas projects by denying them insurance coverage. Green Century filed proposals with each company asking them to stop underwriting fossil fuel expansion. The proposals garnered enough support from the insurers’ shareholders in this first year to file the proposals again next year.
While we’re proud of the progress we’ve achieved this year, there’s always more work to be done. Green Century will continue to push the world’s largest companies to reduce their climate impact, produce less waste, and preserve forests and other vital ecosystems, and we look forward to an even more impactful proxy season in 2023.
About Green Century Capital Management
°Green Century Capital Management, Inc. (Green Century) is the investment advisor to the Green Century Funds (The Funds). The Green Century Funds are a family of fossil fuel-free, environmentally responsible mutual funds. Green Century Capital Management hosts an award-winning and in-house shareholder advocacy program and is the only mutual fund company in the U.S. wholly owned by environmental and public health nonprofit organizations.
*As of March 31, 2022, The Kroger Co. comprised 0.00%, 0.20%, and 0.00%; Mattel, Inc. comprised 0.00%, 0.04%, and 0.00%; The Home Depot, Inc. comprised 0.96%, 1.54%, and 0.00%; Lowe’s Companies, Inc. comprised 0.00%, 0.67%, and 0.00%; The Coca-Cola Company comprised 0.00%, 1.25%, and 0.00%; Apple, Inc. comprised 5.70%, 0.00%, and 0.00%; Chubb Ltd. comprised 0.00%, 0.45%, and 0.00%; The Travelers Companies, Inc. comprised 1.39%, 0.22%, and 0.00%; The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. comprised 0.00%, 0.12%, and 0.00%; Builders FirstSource, Inc. comprised 0.00%, 0.06%, and 0.00%; and Costco Wholesale Corporation comprised 1.45%, 0.00%, and 0.00% of the Green Century Balanced Fund, the Green Century Equity Fund and the Green Century International Index Fund, respectively. As of the same date, other securities mentioned were not held in the portfolios of any of the Green Century Funds. References to specific securities, which will change due to ongoing management of the Funds, should not be construed as a recommendation by the Funds, their administrator, or their distributor.
The percentage in favor was calculated by (i) dividing the number of votes in support of the proposal by (ii) the sum of the number of votes voted in support of and against the proposal. Abstentions and broker non-votes were not included in the calculation.
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The Green Century Funds are distributed by UMB Distribution Services, LLC. 235 W Galena Street, Milwaukee, WI 53212. 7/22