An activist group on Monday unveiled a new tool for keeping tabs on what companies are — and aren’t — disclosing about risks they face from global warming.
The investor advocacy group Ceres has launched a searchable database of what 3,000 large corporations say about climate change in annual reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Ceres tool is fresh evidence that shareholder activism is playing a growing role in battles over climate change. The new database looks at filings from companies in the Russell 3,000 index of the largest U.S. corporations, but users can also look more narrowly at the S&P 500.
Activists say that investors should have more information about how publicly held companies may be affected by federal and state climate and energy policies, as well as the physical risks that climate change creates for businesses from threats such as rising sea levels and severe weather.
“For markets to properly account for rising climate-related risks, investors need information on how companies recognize and manage those risks. This tool helps to make that enterprise far easier for investors interested in understanding and managing climate risk,” said Julie Gorte, senior vice president for sustainable investing at Pax World, a company that specializes in green investing.
In 2010, the SEC released guidelines for how companies should be accounting for climate-related risks in their filings with the regulators. But according to Ceres, the reporting has been spotty and often cursory, and the group says the SEC hasn’t done enough to put teeth into the disclosure requirement.
According to Ceres, only half of the Russell 3,000 filers addressed climate change in their annual reports.
“Robust climate-related data from companies is a critical need, but it’s still lacking,” Ceres President Mindy Lubber said in a statement. “This tool is an important step in making it easier for investors to analyze corporate data that’s available and what’s still missing.”
While Ceres organizes investors to push companies on climate and sustainability, a separate group of activists is waging a campaign that presses universities, cities, and others to divest their holdings from fossil-fuel corporations.
And that brings up another new development: Thursday afternoon brought the launch of the Fossil Free Indexes US, which measures the performance of a version of the S&P 500 that excludes large oil, gas, and coal companies.
“We’re primed to give investors a unique opportunity to invest in the broad market while avoiding the increasing risk of long-term investment in fossil fuels,” said Stuart Braman, CEO of Fossil Free Indexes, which has worked with 350.org, one of the activist groups behind the divestment movement.
Fossil Free Indexes has tracked the performance of its index against the S&P 500 — which is made up largely of U.S. companies — going back a decade.
“Over the 10 years ending 5/30/14, the correlation between returns on FFIUS and the S&P 500 has been very high, suggesting that index investors need not sacrifice returns when choosing not to invest in the biggest carbon resource companies,” the company said in announcing the new index.
It’s the second such index to launch in recent months.
In late April the U.K.-based index provider FTSE Group, the wealth-management company BlackRock, and the Natural Resources Defense Council unveiled the ex-Fossil Fuels Index Series, which is a global set of indexes.
Braman, the founder of the newer index launched last week, said it’s a way to provide to provide options for “institutions and individuals to help protect the planet along with their investments.”
What We're Following See More »
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he's accepting Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's offer to hold an immigration vote at a later date, "clearing the way for passage of a bill to reopen the federal government" today. "McConnell early Monday promised to take up an immigration bill that would protect an estimated 800,000 Dreamers from deportation, under an open amendment process, if Democrats would agree to end the government shutdown."
"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday promised to take up an immigration bill protecting an estimated 800,000 Dreamers from deportation and allow an open amendment process if Democrats agree to reopen the government." He may need up to a dozen Democratic votes.
Twitter is notifying 677,775 U.S. users "who followed, retweeted, or liked tweets from accounts of the Internet Research Agency, a Russian government-linked troll farm." The social media company has so far identified 50,258 Russian-linked bot accounts that tweeted around the election. According to analysis, the hashtag #SchumerShutdown has become the top trending hashtag promoted by Russian bots on Twitter in the past 48 hours. The Alliance for Securing Democracy, found that the accounts have used the hashtag more than 700 times. (Politico)
The updated timetable, which Pence announced, represents an acceleration of plans to formalize their recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. "'By finally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has chosen fact over fiction — and fact is the only true foundation for a just and lasting peace,' he added. Israeli Arab lawmakers staged a walk out during Pence's address at the beginning of his speech, while Palestinian officials snubbed Pence’s visit to parliament. Netenyahu described the U.S.-Israel relationship as a 'remarkable alliance' which has 'never been stronger.'"