Investors Criticize 43 Corporations for Two-Faced Stance on Climate Emissions

Intel, Ford and GE are among 43 major US companies criticized by investor groups this week for their contradictory positions on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and their effect on the environment.

23 investors and investment organizations, representing over $200 billion in assets under management, sent a letter to the companies that sit on the Board of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) asking them to explain the misalignment between their own company’s climate policies and NAM’s position seeking to strip EPA of its ability to curtail GHG.

NAM is the largest manufacturing association in the United States representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states.

In a March newsletter, NAM urged support for "legislation that will prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating (GHG) emissions from stationary sources."

Many companies that are NAM Board members have set laudable goals to reduce their GHG emissions and overall environmental impact. Yet, through NAM, these same companies simultaneously lobby and support measures to weaken, delay or overturn EPA regulations to lower GHG emissions, according to the joint letter. 

In alphabetical order, the letter was sent to: 

3M Company
Abbott Laboratories
Air Products & Chemicals
ConAgra Foods
Conoco Phillips
C.R. Bard
CSX Corporation
Deloitte LLP
Devon Energy
Dow Chemical Company
Eli Lilly & Co.
Ernst & Young
Exxon Mobil Corporation
Ford Motor Company
General Electric Company
General Motors Company
Grant Thornton
H.J. Heinz
Illinois Tool Works, Inc.
Ingersoll Rand
Johnson Controls
Merck & Company, Inc.
Nucor, Pfizer, Inc.
PPG Industries
Pricewaterhouse Coopers
Procter & Gamble Company
Ryder Systems
Shell Oil Company
Southern Company
Toyota Motor Corporation
Verizon Communications.

Stu Dalheim, director of shareholder advocacy for Calvert Investment Management, Inc., who coordinated the open letter with Walden Asset Management, says: "Any company supporting NAM’s recent letter to Congress seeking to block EPA’s authority to regulate GHG harms their public image and reputation as well as forward progress on environmental issues."

In the letter, investors point out that, "Contrary to the claims made in NAM’s short-sighted [Congressional] letter, EPA regulations will result not only in cleaner air and decreased GHG emissions, but also cost savings for business. This will bring more jobs and economic growth, which we as shareholders strongly support."

Timothy Smith, senior vice president, Walden Asset Management, says: "Companies serving on the Board need to evaluate how their internal corporate policies on climate change contradict the policies they support through NAM. Serving on the Board of a trade association comes with the responsibility to govern responsibly and hold the association accountable for lobbying that results in environmental harm."

The letter argues that NAM and its member companies should support EPA regulation of GHG emissions for three reasons:

1) the EPA rules are not overly costly, as NAM claims
2) EPA rules will enhance manufacturers’ competitiveness by encouraging energy efficiency and cost savings
3) a growing number of investors support those EPA regulations.

Similarly, investors also take issue with companies that sit on the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – the industry association that is largely funded by polluters and who takes a leading role in opposing GHG regulations in the US.

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