For Immediate Release
Stefanie Spear, firstname.lastname@example.org, 216-387-1609
98% of Shareholders Want GE to Take Climate Action
WASHINGTON - Today, a resounding 98% of investors voted for a shareholder resolution at General Electric’s annual meeting, according to preliminary numbers. The resolution asks GE to report on whether and how it plans to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its businesses and products by 2050 in alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement’s 1.5°C goal. The resolution was filed and presented by shareholder representative As You Sow on behalf of Amalgamated Bank.
GE’s board supported the resolution, a commendable and unusual move, demonstrating that the company has begun to focus on its full climate impact and is willing to report on its greenhouse gas emission reduction plans. Last year, GE announced its goal of carbon neutrality by 2030, but only for the company’s direct operations and facilities (Scope 1 and 2 emissions). Meeting the ask of the resolution will give shareholders a better understanding of the company’s plans to address its full climate footprint – including indirect emissions from GE’s products (Scope 3) which currently account for a major portion of the company’s total emissions. GE stated it will discuss its approach to emissions reductions in its sustainability report later this year.
“We congratulate the GE Board for recognizing that the company and its shareholders are allies, not opponents, in reducing the systemic risk of climate change,” said Paul Rissman, Co-Founder of Rights Co-Lab, who advised As You Sow on its CA100+ resolutions. “Let’s continue to work together to achieve meaningful decarbonization, at both company and societal levels.”
The resolution was flagged as a key proposal by the Climate Action 100+ investor initiative, which represents over 500 investors with more than $54 trillion in assets. The CA100+ recently released its Net-Zero Company Benchmark, requesting specific climate-related disclosures from the largest carbon-emitting companies, including GE, to track progress made on Paris-aligned goals. As You Sow’s resolution points directly to the benchmark and its clear metrics for assessing climate action.
“While General Electric has done a lot to look at the efficiency and carbon impact of specific products, it has been slow to address its scope three emissions and address how its high carbon client base fits in to a low-carbon economy,” said Ivan Frishberg, director of impact policy at Amalgamated Bank. “We hope that the momentum from this resolution helps move the company to fully account for its full emissions inventory and align its business with the ongoing transition to a net-zero economy.”
Votes will take place in June on other flagged CA 100+ Benchmark resolutions with Caterpillar and General Motors on Benchmark elements including setting emissions reduction targets and aligning targets with executive remuneration. Both companies are in the group of highest global emitters of greenhouse gasses and were evaluated in the recent Benchmark assessment, but in contrast to GE, the companies are not supporting the resolutions. There is keen interest to see how investors will respond to these resolutions, given the strong support from shareowners on the GE proposal. Similar Benchmark resolutions were withdrawn earlier this year when Valero and United Airlines agreed to undertake the requested action.
“We are encouraged to see the strong support for this resolution from GE and from shareholders. It underscores that shareholder concern about climate-related risks and disclosure is growing and must be addressed,” stated Lila Holzman, senior energy program manager of As You Sow. “We hope to see all companies embrace alignment with the Net-Zero Company Benchmark this proxy season and beyond.”
Rounding out the vote at GE, shareholders also voted 57.7% against the executive compensation plan.
To learn more about As You Sow’s work on climate change, click here.
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As You Sow is the nation’s non-profit leader in shareholder advocacy. Founded in 1992, we harness shareholder power to create lasting change that benefits people, planet, and profit.
Our mission is to promote environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies.