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Amplified: Reflections on the 2019 voting season

Climate change, AI ethics and data governance, and the US opioid epidemic were among investors’ biggest concerns during the 2019 voting season, with a number of significant shareholder resolutions. We spoke at several shareholder meetings as part of our engagement with companies.

In this episode of Amplified, Amy Wilson, associate director at Hermes EOS, caught up with some of our engagers to reflect on how the voting season went, with a focus on climate change at Daimler and BP, artificial intelligence at Alphabet, and opioid-related risks at pharmaceutical companies Mallinckrodt and Mylan.

We have been pressing German automotive companies to adapt their business models to a low carbon economy, and Daimler recently launched its Ambition2039 strategy, outlining its transition to sustainable mobility. Engager Roland Bosch, who spoke at the Daimler AGM says: “Overall, we believe car manufacturers could be more ambitious in aligning with the Paris Agreement, but the steps taken so far by companies such as Daimler show we are finally on the right path.”

Amy is also joined by:
Bruce Duguid, head of stewardship at Hermes EOS, who talks about a key shareholder resolution at BP brought as part of the Climate Action 100+ collaborative engagement initiative.

Christine Chow, sector lead for technology, who called on Alphabet to strengthen board oversight in its use of AI, highlighting concerns about public access to violent or extremist content online.

Katie Frame, an engager who covers pharmaceuticals and healthcare companies, who explains what investors are asking opioid manufacturers to do to improve their management of opioid-related risks.

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Featured Insights

Duke Energy case study
In 2010, Duke Energy adopted its first carbon dioxide emissions reduction target – it planned to reduce emissions 17% below the 2005 levels by 2020. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) was finalised in 2015 by the US Environmental Protection Agency, targeting power generation emissions reductions of 32% by 2030 relative to 2005. The Supreme Court stayed the CPP’s requirements in early 2016 and it was never implemented.
Centrica case study
Reflecting our engagement requests, Centrica has set ambitious targets for the reduction of the emissions of its customers, which comprise over 90% of the emissions associated with its business, together with a commitment to set a pathway to net-zero emissions by 2050, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Governance challenges at Japanese companies
Since the introduction of Japan’s Stewardship Code in 2014 and the Corporate Governance Code in 2015, dialogue between investors and Japanese companies has become more common and the governance of many companies has improved. However, many challenges remain and progress in some areas has been slow.