Shareholder support for U.S. climate measures hits nearly 50% -report

A person walks by a steam pipe in the Financial District after The United Nations released the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) latest report, in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 9, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

BOSTON, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Support for climate-related shareholder resolutions at U.S. companies rose significantly this year, according to a report released on Wednesday, as investors focused on economic threats posed by global warming.

The paper, from Institutional Shareholder Services, the largest proxy adviser, found median support for the proposals was 48.9% during the proxy season ended June 30, up from 37.6% in 2020 and 27.5% in 2019.

The total number of resolutions filed rose to 84, also an increase from the prior two years, the report found.

Popular themes for shareholder climate resolutions this year included aligning emissions with the goals of the Paris Agreement, company greenhouse gas emissions and disclosures, and resolutions aimed at company lobbying activities, ISS said.

“The 2021 U.S. proxy voting season marked an escalation of shareholder engagement on climate-related issues and an expansion of investor voting approaches," said Georgina Marshall, global head of research at ISS, in a statement.

The figures were in line with earlier data showing rising support for climate measures. [nL2N2NJ20L] Once given little attention, shareholder proposals have come to dominate the agenda at many large-company annual shareholder meetings in recent years, prompting business groups in Washington to back new rules making them harder for investors to file.

Driving the increase in support are more aggressive proxy vote patterns from large fund firms including BlackRock Inc (BLK.N), as investors channel more money into funds using environmental, social and governance criteria to pick stocks.

BlackRock had said in July it voted against 10% of company directors this year, up from 8.5% the year before.[nL1N2OV00X]

Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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