CERES CEO and President Mindy Lubber responds to the corporate-funded, lobbyist led Main Street Investors Coalition:
Climate change, water scarcity and pollution, and other sustainability threats can pose significant material financial risks to many companies, particularly in industries like oil and gas, electric power, insurance, food and beverage, transportation and agriculture. Investors, as well as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), long have recognized that these threats can be material and that solutions to these threats present opportunities for investment portfolios.
Through the shareholder proposal process, and other cost-effective engagement tools, investors have worked hard to ensure companies, where appropriate, disclose their exposure to these risks and act on them. By doing so, investors help to provide a valuable safeguard by promoting resilience in the companies, their portfolios, and ultimately, the U.S. economy as a whole. Creating obstacles for investors to offer non-binding shareholder resolutions — particularly when a growing number of shareholders are seeking more information from companies on how they are addressing major risks — is the exact wrong move at the exact wrong time.
The investors, companies, and individuals of actual Main Street USA should not be fooled by the name of this new coalition, which appears to be a thinly veiled effort to protect those corporations that are unwilling and unprepared to adapt to a changing world — worsening risks for their employees and investors alike. Simply put, this new effort is an attempt to undermine the decades of progress by investors to get the information they need in order to make sound short and long-term investment decisions, and to spur companies to become more resilient as the world changes around them. Investors have been loud and clear that shareholder resolutions are not based on political whim—as this coalition insinuates—but based on promoting the financial strength of the companies they invest in.