The high percentage of withdrawn proposals in the U.S. signifies a positive development for climate change risk-aware investors, as companies appear more willing to engage and disclose information that satisfies the original proponents. That said, proposal filings and the agreements that lead to proposal withdrawals reflect the specific views and requests of the filer. For investors with their own specific approaches to climate risk, not all climate-related proposal filings will necessarily align with their views.
An effective voting policy on climate change is likely to require a climate risk assessment of the investor’s entire portfolio, which would allow for the evaluation of companies on a standalone basis and independent of shareholder proposal filings. Because general meeting agendas rarely address climate change issues directly, a voting policy on climate is likely to need to expand to regular ballot items, such as director elections, discharge of directors, or the approval of financial statements.