Turn Up the Heat for Mutual Funds
to Act on Climate Change
Nine major mutual fund families in the country are acting like climate change isn’t affecting our planet, the economy, or their investors.
They invest in some of the worst climate-change-causing companies -- companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Massey Energy (coal) -- that fall significantly behind their industry peers when it comes to addressing climate change. Yet time and time again, these large funds fail to push these companies to address investor concerns about their carbon emissions. As shareholders -- as part-owners of these companies -- mutual funds have both the right and responsibility to push their companies to improve, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because polluting and energy inefficient companies that will suffer under consumer pressure, government regulation, and the changing times are a huge risk for the millions of people represented by these major fund families.
That's why we're calling on Fidelity, ING, Oppenheimer, Pioneer, RiverSource, Frank Russell, State Street, Steward, and Vanguard (find their addresses here) to wake up to the reality of climate change and step up to their responsibility to protect their investments and vote for shareholder resolutions addressing climate risk at the companies in their portfolios, each and every time they have the chance. Unfortunately, these funds families have refused to vote in support of even one climate change shareholder resolution during the last five years. These funds’ failure to support these resolutions comes at a time when mainstream support for climate-related resolutions is at an all-time high. Why are these major funds so far behind their peers?
The shareholder process provides ample opportunity for these funds to vote for a new way of doing business, if only they would support shareholders' climate change resolutions. These resolutions frequently call for companies to: disclose their climate emissions, explain the effects these emissions will have on their business, and develop a plan for reducing those emissions, thereby reducing the company's financial risk due to climate change.
It's not just the right thing to do; it's good business.
Other investors -- increasing numbers of pension funds, university funds, foundations, and socially responsible mutual funds -- already know this, and they're leading the way. We need you to help give a push to major mutual fund families (representing trillions of dollars in powerful investments) that are lagging behind. Use our letter below for inspiration for how to tell these funds to get in step with their more responsible peers -- especially now that we know that climate change is happening faster than we ever thought. The time to act is now. (Find mutual fund addresses here.)
2009 Mutual Funds Climate Letter
As a concerned investor, I urge your company to take climate change seriously. The evidence is in, climate change is happening faster than we imagined and is an enormous threat to our planet, including our economy. All businesses will be affected by climate change and as investors we have a right and responsibility to encourage companies to be proactive in mitigating and addressing this threat.
I’m greatly concerned that your mutual funds are not supporting any climate change shareholder resolutions. Supporting shareholder resolutions to lessen financial risk from climate change is a basic step that a growing number of investors are taking to promote corporate responsibility on this crucial, time-sensitive global issue. In fact, institutional investors with trillions of dollars in assets are filing climate change resolutions, dialoguing with company management, and voting their proxies in favor of resolutions. Their work is having an impact, with a growing number of multinational companies taking action on climate change in response. This demonstrates how far behind the curve your institution is – especially as climate-related shareholder resolutions receive record level of support!
As an investor, I expect any fund family I invest in to be active on climate change. I encourage your funds to reconsider your blanket rejection of all climate change resolutions and start supporting these resolutions instead. Your funds should also engage in dialogues with corporate management on climate change, evaluate your investment choices based on corporate responses to the risks of climate change, and take steps to make your own operations climate neutral.
Your City and State
(Addresses for the nine mutual funds are here.)