Shareholders Call on Companies to Address Global Warming

A group of pension-fund managers representing public employees announced yesterday that they had filed shareholder resolutions with 10 North American oil and gas companies, calling on them to report to investors how they plan to deal with the problem of global warming and, more to the point, restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions that many expect to come into force within a few years. The resolutions — coordinated by the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility — are part of a growing trend by shareholder activists to force companies to forthrightly and publicly address environmental issues from nuclear waste to toxic emissions. Fifty-one such resolutions have been filed thus far this year. The latest round targeted not only big names like ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco, but smaller companies that do oil and gas exploration and are likely to be hardest hit by new regulations. By and large, the companies are loath to comply: “We feel we have already been responsive to these queries in a number of forums,” said a spokesperson for ExxonMobil.