Report: Mutual Funds More Supportive of Climate Change Resolutions

Report: Mutual Funds More Supportive of Climate Change Resolutions

The mutual fund industry is showing less opposition to climate change shareholder resolutions, according to a report from Ceres that looked at votes by 1,285 funds.

Climate resolutions frequently call on companies to disclose their own emissions, reduce emissions and explain climate risks and opportunities from their actions and investments.

In looking at votes by 62 mutual fund firms from 2004-2007, Ceres found that many funds previously opposed such resolutions, but more are supporting climate change resolutions or at least abstaining on them.

Yet the report also found some mutual funds have held firm their opposition to climate change resolutions while introducing or supporting climate-related funds and research. Morgan Stanley has not supported any of the 215 climate resolutions it faced in the last four years, and State Street Global Advisors has also opposed all 54 resolutions it faced in the same period. The main standout is Goldman Sachs, which is offering climate-related investments and more supportive of climate resolutions. In 2007 Goldman Sachs supported almost half of climate resolutions, and it has also invested in clean technology.

"Investors should be scrubbing their portfolios for climate risks just as they're now scrubbing them for hidden sub-prime risks,” Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres and director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, said in a statement. “Mutual funds that are ignoring climate resolutions aimed at boosting corporate disclosure of climate risks are failing in their fiduciary responsibilities and failing their customers."

Opposition has dropped from 77.8 percent of votes on climate change resolutions in 2004 to 65.1 percent in 2007. Abstention votes rose from 11.9 percent in 2004 to 24.4 percent in 2007.

No matter what positive things the report has to say about some of the firm, Co-op America is urging people to contact 10 of the largest mutual fund firms and demand they do more. The group has singled out American Century, American Funds, Ameriprise, Dreyfus, Fidelity, ING, Morgan Stanley, Oppenheimer, Pioneer and Vanguard as not doing enough quickly enough for the climate.