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Investors and Consumers Urge Fidelity, Vanguard and American Funds to Take Action on
March 28, 2006
An unprecedented 38,000 Call on Largest Mutual Funds to Support Climate Shareholder Resolutions
BOSTON – More than 38,000 investors and consumers today called on the nation’s three largest mutual fund companies – including Boston-based Fidelity – to focus their attention on the financial implications of global warming. The three mutual fund families collectively manage more than $1 trillion in assets.
The headquarters of Fidelity, Vanguard and American Funds today received petitions and letters calling on the companies to begin to address the economic risks of climate change by supporting global warming shareholder resolutions filed with U.S. companies. In 2005, none of the three mutual fund companies supported such resolutions, which typically request that firms disclose the financial risks and opportunities of global warming and describe their strategies for managing those challenges.
Mutual fund companies are a critical missing link in the push for better corporate disclosure about the financial implications of global warming,” said Mindy S. Lubber, president of the Ceres investor coalition, which coordinates the Investor Network on Climate Risk. “They are ignoring the impacts that climate change will have on a wide range of business sectors, whether from emerging greenhouse gas limits, direct physical impacts or surging demand for climate-friendly technologies such as hybrid vehicles.”
Although a recent survey by the Civil Society Institute found that 7 out of 10 investors want their mutual fund to support climate resolutions, a recent Ceres study shows that none of the nation’s 100 largest mutual funds supported any such resolutions in 2005. By contrast, other major investors are taking action on global warming. Members of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, which includes 50 institutional investors managing nearly $3 trillion in assets, routinely support climate resolutions.
Mutual fund companies are out of touch with investors,” said Alisa Gravitz, executive director of Co-op America, a national investor education group. “When tens of thousands of consumers and investors tell the largest mutual funds companies that they are failing as fiduciaries, it’s a wake up call that they should support future climate change resolutions. Mutual fund companies should join other institutional investors such as state pension funds and insurance companies that are calling on firms in their portfolios to address global warming.”
In the last two years, investors have filed dozens of global warming resolutions with leading U.S. companies in the electric power, oil and gas, auto, building and financial sectors. The resolutions have received record high shareholder support, including 28 percent support for a resolution filed last year with ExxonMobil.
Scientists warn that we must act today to avoid enormous economic losses as a result of global warming,” said Kevin Knobloch, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists, which helped organize the petition drive. “In addition to protecting their investors, mutual fund companies that address global warming will earn incalculable dividends from the public for confronting the world’s greatest environmental threat.”
Ceres sent letters last Friday to Fidelity, Vanguard and American Funds, requesting to meet with the companies to discuss the financial risks from climate change and their lack of support for shareholder resolutions that address those risks.
About Ceres: Ceres is a national coalition of investors, environmental groups and other public interest organizations working with companies to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change. Ceres issued a report in January analyzing how the nation’s 100 largest mutual funds voted on climate change resolutions at the 2005 corporate annual meetings. The report, Unexamined Risk: How Mutual Funds Vote on Climate Change Shareholder Resolutions is available at www.ceres.org/pub/
About Co-op America: Co-op America is a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1982 that harnesses economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. Co-op America’s membership alliance includes more than 75,000 consumers, investors and business leaders. www.greenamerica.org
About UCS: The Union of Concerned Scientists is an independent nonprofit alliance of more than 100,000 concerned citizens and scientists. UCS augments rigorous scientific analysis with innovative thinking and committed citizen advocacy to build a cleaner, healthier environment and a safer world. For more information, visit www.ucsusa.org
Please contact Todd Larsen by email