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UK funds confront US firms on green issues

UK – A group of public sector pension funds in the UK is to back proposals for better environmental reporting by US companies.

The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, a group of 27 public sector funds with a combined 40 billion pounds (58 billion euros) in assets, said in a news release that it supports proposals put forward by US corporate governance body Ceres.

The members of the forum hold an average of 5% of their assets in US companies.

Ceres has tabled proposals at 13 large US firms’ annual general meetings, calling on them to “significantly improve reporting on carbon emissions”.

The 13 companies are: Citigroup, Weyerhauser, PG&E, AEP, GE, ConocoPhillips, Gillette, Txu, ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, SouthernCo, GM and Ford.

LAPFF said that 54% of companies in the UK’s benchmark FTSE-100 index have improved their reporting on greenhouse issues in line with government guidance.

“Now the LAPFF is extending its campaign to the USA,” it says. The statement is timed to coincide with Ceres’ annual meeting in New York. Ironically perhaps, the meeting is sponsored to the tune of 10,000 dollars each by Ford and GM.

LAPFF chairman Bob Sowman, who is also chairman of the West Yorkshire Pension Fund, said: “It is through company dialogue and engagement that we believe company reporting on this vital issue can be developed and thus shareholder returns over the long term can be protected.”

Sowman has said in the past that the LAPFF is viewed as the main collective voice of local authority pension funds, as shareholders, on a wide range of company issues.

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