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Climate Change Hero

Climate Change Blog

  • 19
  • June
  • 2017

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EPA Proposes 2-Year Stay on Key Parts of Quad Oa — the 2016 Methane NSPS Rule for the Oil and Gas Industry

On June 16, 2017, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposed rule that would stay for two years parts of EPA’s June 3, 2016 final rule entitled “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources,” which amended and established updated new source performance standards (NSPS) for the oil and natural gas sector. This final rule was codified in EPA’s NSPS regulations as Subpart OOOOa to 40 CFR Part 60 or “Quad Oa.” Detailed information about Quad Oa can be found here.

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  • 15
  • June
  • 2017

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The Ascendance of 2° Celsius Proposals in ESG Activism

The 2017 proxy season will be remembered as the first proxy season to see “2° Celsius” shareholder proposals succeed at annual meetings of U.S. public companies. Environmental shareholder proposals have quietly garnered increasing support in annual meetings of public companies in recent years, but the 2° Celsius proposal has enjoyed greater and more vocal support than others. Shareholder voting data from the 2016 proxy season pointed to the possibility that 2017 could be the first year that these proposals would receive more than 50% of shareholder votes at annual meetings. As of mid-June 2017, three 2° Celsius proposals have passed the 50% vote threshold at annual meetings. Below we summarize the groundwork laid for this type of proposal by the 2015 Paris Agreement and international meetings before it, and we present voting data from annual meetings of 2016 and 2017 to show the increasing popularity of these proposals.

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  • 06
  • June
  • 2017

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President Trump Announces U.S. Exit From the Paris Agreement

President Trump announced on Thursday, June 1, 2017 that he will pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. This decision is hugely controversial. Indeed, even Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips, the world’s two largest oil producers, opposed withdrawal. Moreover, nearly every country in the world (including North Korea) has signed onto the Agreement. By withdrawing, the U.S. has become one of only three countries to abstain from participation, joining ranks with Nicaragua and Syria.

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IHS Markit Challenges Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures

In another chapter in the ongoing debate regarding the future of public company disclosures concerning the environment, the London-based consulting firm IHS Markit Ltd. has issued a lengthy report critiquing the Draft Recommendations published in December 2016 by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). A handful of energy company supermajors provided financial support for the report, entitled Climate-Related Financial Risk and the Oil and Gas Sector.

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  • 01
  • June
  • 2017

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The Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures Calls for Never-Before-Used Scenario Analysis in Public Disclosures

In December 2016, the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) published Draft Recommendations purporting to set forth “widely adoptable recommendations on climate-related financial disclosures that are applicable to organizations across sectors and jurisdictions.”  Appended to these Draft Recommendations is a Technical Supplement, explaining that the TCFD is calling for companies to analyze and disclose risks related to climate change using a “scenario” analysis. Whether the TCFD’s Draft Recommendations become, in fact, “widely adoptable” will depend in part on how the recommendations square with the current regulatory framework for public company disclosures and how ready companies and the SEC are to support the new methods of analysis and standards for disclosure advocated by the recommendations.

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Top Asset Managers That Support Environmental Shareholder Proposals

Environmental shareholder activism at publicly traded companies in the U.S. features some of the largest investors in the world supporting proposals sponsored by some of the smallest investors in the world. From 2015 to the present, most environmental shareholder proposals were brought to annual meetings of companies by relatively unknown investment groups such as As You Sow, Mercy Investment Services, The Park Foundation, Trillium Asset Management, Calvert Asset Management, The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations and the Presbyterian Church of the USA. Only occasionally have these proposals been co-sponsored or sponsored by significantly larger pension funds in the U.S. market known for their interests in corporate environmental policy. With these proposals, these small investors have commanded degrees of attention at corporations highly disproportionate to their usually miniscule ownership stakes. The 2017 proxy season is likely to bring continued increases in visibility for these investors, with added support from a few of the world’s leading asset managers.

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Contributors

Margaret E. Peloso

Margaret E. Peloso Partner

Eric Groten

Eric Groten Partner

George C. Hopkins

George C. Hopkins Partner

Michael B. Wigmore

Michael B. Wigmore Partner

Mattew T. Dobbins

Matthew Dobbins Senior Associate

Tyler E. Robinson

Tyler E. Robinson Senior Associate

Theresa Romanosky

Theresa Romanosky Senior Associate

Brandon M. Tuck

Brandon M. Tuck Senior Associate