New York, NY – International Paper and the printing company RR Donnelley face upcoming shareholder votes on climate change resolutions filed by Domini Social Investments. Domini, a leader in the field of sustainable investing, has convinced five other major companies to take steps to preserve forests to address the threat of global climate change.
“In addition to providing critical habitat for many species, forests mitigate the effects of climate change by absorbing enormous quantities of carbon,” said Karen Shapiro, a member of Domini’s shareholder advocacy team. “Deforestation is responsible for 20% of global annual emissions of carbon dioxide. Companies can protect long-term shareholder value and address climate change by adopting more responsible forestry practices.”
Of the 20 shareholder resolutions that Domini filed with companies for the 2008 proxy season, 6 concerned sustainable forestry and climate change. Four of the six companies targeted — the electronics retailer Best Buy, the home improvement companies Home Depot and Lowe’s, and the paper and packaging company MeadWestvaco — reached agreements with Domini in exchange for withdrawal of the resolutions. In 2007, Domini withdrew a shareholder proposal filed with the consumer products company Procter & Gamble when P&G committed to publish more complete information on its fiber procurement policy and practices.
“Our most successful shareholder resolutions are those that never come to a vote,” said Adam Kanzer, head of shareholder activism at Domini Social Investments. “We are very pleased that four of the six companies we approached this season on forestry issues have understood and agreed to take action on our concerns.”
Home Depot and Lowe’s agreed to issue reports on their policies for sourcing wood from around the world. Best Buy agreed to work with Domini to develop a sustainable paper purchasing policy and MeadWestvaco agreed to assess the feasibility of phasing out the sale of paper made from wood fiber that is not certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC certifies that wood is produced in a way that does not destroy habitat, pollute water, displace indigenous people, or harm wildlife.
International Paper and RR Donnelley, in contrast, have not responded to Domini’s concerns about unsustainable wood and paper purchasing practices. Shareholder resolutions on forestry practices will be voted on at their annual meetings on May 12 and May 28, respectively.
“Many companies have begun publicly stating a clear preference for buying FSC-certified paper and pulp,” noted Shapiro. “FSC is the fastest growing forest certification system in the world, and is widely accepted as the gold standard for sustainable forestry. Companies that don’t embrace FSC may face shrinking market share relative to their competitors.”
These recent advances mark continued progress in Domini’s ongoing efforts to encourage more sustainable forestry policies. In 2006, after discussions with Domini, Kimberly-Clark commissioned a study to evaluate the feasibility of phasing out its use of non-FSC-certified wood fiber and in 2007 the company issued a new policy expressing preference for fiber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
In 2006, Domini’s engagement with Limited Brands , the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, succeeded in bringing the company to the table to negotiate a sustainable forestry policy with ForestEthics, a nonprofit that had been running a visible campaign against the company. As a result, Limited and ForestEthics announced that the company would use more paper certified by the FSC, increase the recycled content of its paper, and reduce the use of paper in catalogs.
Domini was the lead filer for five of the six forestry resolutions filed for the 2008 proxy season. The lead filer for MeadWestvaco was another institutional investor, the Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order, although Domini played a leading role in dialogue with the company.
Domini Resolutions on Other Topics Achieve Success
Domini achieved success on a number of other shareholder resolutions, including the following:
- Domini’s resolution calling on Becton Dickinson to phase out brominated flame retardants received a strong vote of 36% at the company’s annual meeting, the highest ever received for a resolution focused on toxics.
- Domini withdrew a resolution with American Express in exchange for the company’s agreement to begin annual public reporting of it s political contributions, including certain payments to trade associations used for political purposes. Domini’s resolution with AT&T on the same topic received a vote of 32% after receiving support from RiskMetr ics Group, a leading proxy voting advisory service.
- Domini withdrew a resolution with J.C. Penney when the company agreed to develop a policy on the use of PVC plastic in produ cts and packaging and begin replacing PVC with safer, more sustainable materials.
Details on all of the resolutions filed or co-filed by Domini are available at the Shareholder Activism section of Domini’s website at www.domini.com.
About Domini Social Investments
Domini Social Investments manages more than $1.3 billion in assets for individual and institutional mutual fund investors seeking to create positive change in society by integrating social and environmental standards into their investment decisions. Two fundamental principles underlie the global investment standards that Domini applies to each of its investment products: the promotio n of a society that values human dignity and the enrichment of our natural environment. Domini views these twin goals as crucial to a healthier, wealthier, and more sustainable world.
Each investor should consider the Domini Funds’ investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. Obtain a copy of each Fund’s current prospectus for more complete information on these and other topics by calling 1-800-762-6814 or at www.domini.com. Please read the prospectus carefully before investing or sending money.
DSIL Investment Services LLC, Distributor. 05/08