BERKELEY, CALIF.—In a resounding vote of support for climate action, 92 percent of shareholders supported a Say on Climate resolution filed by shareholder representative As You Sow asking the world’s global foodservice leader, Sysco Corp., for Paris aligned, net-zero targets, an aligned climate transition plan, and annual reporting of progress. The proposal earned a majority vote of 92.1 percent representing more than $25.8 billion in assets voted.
This resolution is part of a larger “Say on Climate,” global investor movement calling for companies to develop a net-zero, 1.5 degree-aligned climate transition plan for their Scope 1-3 greenhouse gas emissions plus annual reporting on success in reducing those emissions.
The Science Based Target Initiative reports that 1,029 companies have approved targets aligned with achieving the global 1.5-degree warming goal. Companies such as Walmart, General Mills, Colgate, and many others have also recently committed to become net zero by 2050 or sooner and to annually report progress towards meeting these targets.
The majority vote at Sysco follows other resolutions during the 2021 season calling for net-zero action from companies, including a 98 percent vote of support at General Electric and a 56.4 percent vote at Booking Holdings.
‘Increasing Sense of Urgency’
“The shareholder vote at Sysco aligns with an increasing sense of urgency from shareholders that the world is not on track to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” said Danielle Fugere, President of As You Sow. “The number of companies committing to net-zero targets is gaining speed, which is good, but to maintain a livable planet and a functioning economy, shareholders are looking to every company to take responsibility for reducing their full range of greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.”
“Shareholders recognize that climate-related financial risk to companies and to shareholder portfolios continues to grow,” said David Shugar, ESG and climate data analyst at As You Sow. “Inaction or limited action is no longer acceptable.”
Sysco has developed narrow greenhouse gas reduction efforts, including a 20 percent renewable electricity goal and increased use of alternative fuels, but has not set company-wide greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. “Piecemeal efforts to reduce emissions are insufficient to achieve our global climate goals,” said Shugar.
The climate transition plan resolutions refer to the CA100+ benchmark as best practice for companies in setting net-zero plans. In response to material climate risk, the Climate Action 100+ initiative, a coalition of more than 615 investors with more than $60 trillion in assets, issued a Net Zero Company Benchmark outlining metrics that create climate accountability for companies and transparency for shareholders. These indicators include short, medium, and long-term emission reduction goals in line with limiting global warming to 1.5° Celsius and clearly defined decarbonization strategies, capital allocation alignment with a 1.5° C goal, board oversight of climate, aligned lobbying and executive compensation policies, a just transition focus, and other key climate indicators.