October 19, 2009
Investors Urge Companies to Distance Themselves from Associations Over Climate Change
by Robert Kropp
A letter to 14 companies notes misalignment between their positions on climate change and that of
the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.
In the wake of recent high-profile withdrawals of companies from the US Chamber of Commerce and the
National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) over the positions of the associations on climate
change—Nike resigned its seat on the Chamber's board, while Apple left the Chamber altogether, and
Duke Energy left NAM—influential institutional investors are now pressuring other companies to
In a letter to 14 companies that are members of the Chamber and/or
NAM, 43 investors and investor organizations with over $16 billion in assets under management
commended the companies for their adoption of public positions in support of climate change
legislation, but expressed "concern over the glaring contradictions between the company's position"
and that of the associations.
The signatories of the letter include Tim Smith, Senior
Vice President of Walden Asset
Management, and Kristina Curtis, Senior Vice President of Green Century Capital Management. Among the letter's
recipients are Air Products & Chemicals, Alcoa, American Electric Power, Boeing Company,
Caterpillar, Cummins, Deere & Co., DTE Energy, Entergy, Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Lockheed
Martin, Whirlpool, and Xerox.
Citing recent findings by the Center for Political Accountability (CPA) that
such a misalignment of positions on climate change between companies and the associations in which
they are members poses risks to companies and their shareowners, the letter urges each recipient
company to "integrate its political spending and association memberships with its publicly stated,
forward looking policy and positions on climate change."
The signatories provide a number
of recommendations for the companies to consider. They can follow the examples set by Nike, Apple,
and Duke Energy, by either withdrawing their membership or resigning from the boards of the
associations. They can publicly declare that they do not share the positions of the associations on
climate change, and request that the associations publicly acknowledge the misalignment. The
companies can disclose the portion of their membership dues that are used by the associations to
lobby for political purposes, and request refunds for the portion used by the associations to lobby
on climate change.
Emily Stone, Shareholder Advocate for Green Century Capital Management,
said, "We are at a critical crossroads between a polluting, dangerous path and a clean energy
future, and we believe it is now more important than ever for companies to take clear action to
preserve their leadership roles on this critical issue by distancing themselves from the
antagonistic lobbying of business associations such as the US Chamber of Commerce and the National
Association of Manufacturers."