CalSTRS Proxy Proposals Get Carbon Disclosure Commitments
Five greenhouse gas proposals withdrawn as companies agree to positive steps.

News release

 SACRAMENTO, CA – In a sign that even skeptical companies are “getting” the climate risk message, five firms have agreed with the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) to improve their greenhouse gas disclosure.

Of seven climate-related shareholder resolutions CalSTRS filed during the 2009 proxy season, five were withdrawn as companies pledged to take positive steps. The remaining two proceeded to the annual meetings of Avis Budget Group and Ultra Petroleum.

Responding to CalSTRS shareholder resolutions, MetLife, Assurant, Noble Energy and Range Resources are now improving their greenhouse gas emissions disclosure and responding to this year’s Carbon Disclosure Project survey. Spectra Energy is also improving its greenhouse gas emissions disclosure and will report to shareholders on the feasibility of adopting greenhouse gas reduction targets.

CalSTRS continues to engage Avis Budget Group and Ultra Petroleum on the climate-risk concerns raised in its shareholder resolutions.

As a long-term shareholder, CalSTRS encourages companies to address climate change risks as a safeguard of investment value.

“Research confirms that climate change is a fact of life in the 21st century and businesses that ignore this reality, do so at their own peril,” said CalSTRS Chief Executive Officer Jack Ehnes. “Those companies that take climate risk seriously and plan accordingly, provide the long-term value CalSTRS works toward in ensuring the financial future of California educators.”

Four of the CalSTRS resolutions resulted from work with the Carbon Disclosure Project, which tracks how the world’s largest companies are measuring and reporting their greenhouse gas emissions. The remaining resolutions came from collaborations with other institutional investors.

Ceres, a leading coalition of environmental groups and institutional investors, along with other investor coalitions, are part of a focused effort to increase awareness and underscore the importance of climate risk management.

Ceres reported that 30 of the record 64 climate-related investor resolutions filed in 2009 were withdrawn after the companies committed to positive measures.

The CalSTRS commitment to sustainable investment is also evident in:

  • Sponsorship of the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Electric Utilities Report 2009, released in April. The report found that electric utilities are improving but still have a long way to go to bring operations in line with a low-carbon economy.
  • Involvement with Ceres in a call for improved climate risk disclosure requirements at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, with a $122.4 billion portfolio, is the second largest public pension fund in the United States. It administers retirement, disability and survivor benefits for California’s 833,000 public school educators and their families from the state’s 1,400 school districts, county offices of education and community college districts.