This fall, we have continued to reduce the fossil fuel holdings of the UUCEF. As of January 1, 2015, our active investment portfolio will include only eight oil and gas producers included on the Carbon Tracker list of the 200 largest publicly traded owners of carbon reserves in the world. (We also hold a small number of shares in several other companies that we use for shareholder advocacy.) Represented by our Treasurer, Tim Brennan, we are engaged in advocacy with all of them, aimed at lessening their impact on climate change.
A striking advocacy success came a few months ago in our work with Norwegian firm Statoil. After a dialogue led by one of our asset managers, Boston Common Asset Management, the firm agreed to place on hold a significant project involving oil sands—one of the dirtiest forms of fossil fuel extraction.
Currently, we are part of an investor group engaged in climate-related dialogue with Occidental Petroleum, and are filing shareholder resolutions on climate with seven other firms. (Shareholder resolutions may appear on a company’s proxy ballot, which is mailed to all shareholders before the company’s annual meeting, and receive significant media attention. Companies often agree to proponent’s requests in advance of the annual meeting, in order to have the resolutions withdrawn before ballots are printed. In other cases, companies make changes after the proposals receive significant votes.)
At Chevron and Conoco Philips, our resolutions ask the company to link executive pay to achievement of environmental and social objectives, as well as financial achievements. Our resolution at Conoco is particularly innovative: it asks the company to link CEO pay to success in lowering the carbon-intensity of the company’s reserves. Resolutions at Chesapeake, Hess, Marathon Oil and Newfield Exploration Corp. ask the company to report publicly on its exposure to stranded asset risk (the risk that it may not be possible to extract and market fossil fuel reserves, due to climate regulation). Finally, a resolution at Devon Energy asks the company for disclosure on its public policy related to climate change.
Most of the annual meetings for American companies occur in the second quarter of the year, so the December—February period is often a time of intense dialogue and negotiation for shareholder advocates, and we expect it may be for us this year as well. As UUCEF investors enjoy the holiday season, they can know their portfolio is being used to advance their values—and they can look forward to an update in the spring.