New Proxy Voting Guidelines Designed to Positively Impact Changing Climate
Boston- With just one more month of the proxy season, the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board, which oversees the state’s $101.5 billion pension fund, voted on several environmental proxy proposals.
In February, the PRIM Board approved new proxy voting guidelines proposed by State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg, therefore the Board will vote against any director at a company that is not aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement and Climate Action 100+.
“One of the strongest tools a pension fund has for engagement is proxy voting,” said State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg, who Chairs the PRIM Board. “These votes will have a long-term impact on our changing climate while achieving our financial goals.”
Following customized guidelines on Climate Change/Greenhouse Gas Emissions put in place at the February meeting, the PRIM Board recently voted in favor of shareholder resolutions, which include:
• Item 6 - Shareholder Proposal Regarding Inclusion of Medium-Term Scope 3 Targets (FOR)
• Item 7 - Shareholder Proposal Regarding a Report on the Risk of Natural Gas Stranded Assets (FOR)
• Item 5 - Adopt Medium and Long-Term GHG Emissions Reduction Targets (FOR)
• Item 6 - Issue Audited Net-Zero Scenario Analysis Report (FOR)
• Item 7 - Oversee and Report on Reliability of Methane Emission Disclosures (FOR)
The Southern Company
• Item 1 – The Election of Directors (AGAINST)
In addition, the Board voted to support shareholder resolutions at several financial institutions including, Bank of America, CitiGroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo to adopt financing policies in line with the International Energy Agency's (IEA) Net Zero by 2050 Scenario.
These actions come as part of Treasurer Goldberg and PRIM’s commitment to build and implement a comprehensive ESG framework with the proxy goals of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and/or establishing a plan to achieve “net zero” emissions by 2050.
ESG stands for environmental, social, and corporate governance and is a way of investing sustainably in areas of social responsibility. The Treasurer believes ESG investing is a fiduciary responsibility and is taking innovative and actionable steps to foster diversity and fight against climate change, while still maintaining – and even increasing – returns.
“Treasurer Goldberg has long believed that managing the systemic risk of climate change is essential for the health of Massachusetts, the long-term value of the pension fund investments essential to state workers, union members, and teachers.” said Mary Cerulli, founder of Boston-based Climate Finance Action. “It is clear from working with her office that Treasurer Goldberg is a leader and the PRIM team will continue to use the tools they have to protect the beneficiaries of the state fund by aligning with the Paris Agreement.
About the Massachusetts State Treasury
Under the leadership of Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg, the Massachusetts State Treasury is comprised of 13 departments and agencies that serve the public through the Office of the State Treasurer and Receiver General. The Treasury is committed to embracing cutting-edge technology, implementing practical business strategies, and developing public-private partnerships to ensure economic stability, security, and opportunity for every Massachusetts resident. Treasurer Goldberg is the former President of the National Association of State Treasurers and is the Co-Chair of the National Institute of Public Finance. Visit MassTreasury.org to learn more and follow along on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.