CWR co-hosts Bill Baue and Francesca Rheannon speak with Gary Hirshberg, CEO of organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm, and author of Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World. Hirshberg believes that business is a necessary force for creating a sustainable economy and society, as outlined in his book. Yet he admits that business is a primary cause of our current unsustainable economy, a seeming contradiction that he explains in our conversation.
Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres and director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, provides commentary on a recent Ceres report examining how mainstream mutual funds vote on shareholder resolutions that urge companies to address climate change. A 2004 SEC rule requires mutual funds to disclose their proxy voting records each year. The report finds that mainstream mutual fund opposition to climate resolutions is thawing–but ironically, support for climate resolutions is also decreasing. Filling this gap is abstentions, which have doubled from 2004 to 2007. For the sake of disclosure, CWR co-host Bill Baue co-authored the report.
CWR co-hosts Francesca Rheannon and Bill Baue attended the conference, hosted by investor-environmentalist coalition Ceres and its Investor Network on Climate Risk. Rheannon speaks with British Telecom Pension Scheme Trustee Donald MacDonald about the impact of war on climate change and what institutional investors can do to address it.
Baue speaks with Co-op America CEO Alisa Gravitz about its multi-tiered approach to address climate change through member company actions, investor advocacy, and consumer activism. And Ian Gray of Ceres speaks with McKinsey Global Institute Director Diana Farrell about its new report on energy efficiency. We also excerpt highlights from the presentations by Harvard Professor and Woods Hole Research Center Director John Holdren outlining the current science on climate change and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney placing climate change in the social context.
Vermont State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding delivered the opening address at the launching of the Marlboro College Graduate Center MBA in Managing for Sustainability program in Vermont where CWR co-host Bill Baue teaches. The talk was entitled, “Sustainability and State Finance: Strategic Decision-Making and ‘Win-Win’ Strategies.” Spaulding discussed a number of different ways the state uses its investment assets to leverage corporate sustainability and responsibility, from aggressively voting its proxies to filing shareholder resolutions addressing issues such as Sudan and climate change to participating in the Investor Network on Climate Risk, a group of institutional investors launched by Ceres in 2003 to promote sustainable business practices. He also explains the complexities of implementing green investing through board-run state pension funds.
Richard Liroff, Ph.D. talks about a new investor network concerned with reducing unnecessarily toxic chemicals in products. DuPont shareholders broadly support resolution calling for the company to report on options to speed the elimination of PFOA production and use (a chemical used in producing Teflon as well as grease and stain resistant coatings on carpet, textiles and food wraps).
In addition, we hear a live report from Simon Billeness at an Amnesty International protest regarding the role of Yahoo in jailing a Chinese dissident.