The ability to vote at company meetings is a fundamental shareholder right available to investors in most jurisdictions and is a key pillar of stewardship, enabling shareholders to hold companies to account and protect their long-term interests.
EOS at Federated Hermes1 provides stewardship services to clients, including engagement and voting recommendations. Occasionally, EOS publicises certain voting recommendations to draw attention to what we regard as material concerns at companies related to a company engagement.
Below we record the public declarations made so far in 2022. We plan to update this as and when we make further public declarations.
Chevron Corporation annual shareholder meeting
25th May 2022
EOS at Federated Hermes is recommending that shareholders follow the board’s recommendation to vote for the shareholder proposal requesting a report on the reliability of methane emission disclosures by the company (item 7).
The company’s board recommends that shareholders vote to support a shareholder proposal for a report on the reliability of methane emission disclosures. EOS supports this shareholder proposal and this emerging corporate governance best practice of boards supporting company aligned shareholder proposals that advance company and long-term shareholder interests, as well as, in this case, greater accuracy in methane emission measurement and disclosure.
In supporting this shareholder proposal, EOS believes the company’s board has shown leadership in progressing the accuracy and reliability of methane emissions reporting, as such emissions are an investment risk that has been under and inconsistently reported by US companies.
For more information, please refer to the Exempt Solicitation filing – SEC Filing | Chevron Corporation
TotalEnergies annual shareholder meeting
25th May 2022
EOS at Federated Hermes is recommending to vote against the advisory resolution at TotalEnergies’ 2022 AGM, which seeks non-binding approval of the 2022 Sustainability & Climate – Progress Report (item 16). This recommendation is based on EOS’ view that the company’s current progress in reducing emissions and improving the ambition of its targets does not provide sufficient assurance that the company’s plans are substantially aligned to the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit climate change to 1.5°C. In particular we note:
- The lack of appropriate global short- or medium-term targets for the absolute reduction of Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions.
- The determination of misalignment to a selected 1.5°C benchmark pathway of the company’s short- and medium-term emissions reduction targets for the carbon intensity of energy products sold, as determined by the Transition Pathway Initiative and reported in the CA100+ benchmark.
Volkswagen AG annual shareholder meeting
12th May 2022
EOS at Federated Hermes recommended to vote against the discharge of each of the management board (items 3.1-3.9) and supervisory boards (items 4.1-4.23). This is based on the company’s poor disclosure of its policy lobbying on climate change. Shortly before the meeting, the company declined a formal request for a shareholder resolution to put forward at its annual shareholder meeting proposed by seven European investors requesting the company to disclose further information on how its lobbying activities help to address climate risks.
ConocoPhillips annual shareholder meeting
10th May 2022
EOS at Federated Hermes recommended that ConocoPhillips shareholders vote against the chair of the Public Policy and Sustainability Committee, Director Freeman, (item 1B) due to company inaction in response to the majority-supported 2021 shareholder proposal to address climate change risk by “setting emission reduction targets covering the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the company’s operations as well as their energy products (Scope 1, 2, and 3).”
While EOS welcomed the company’s proactive approach to shareholder engagement on climate strategy, the company’s lack of action to develop a Scope 3 emissions strategy and lack of progress on other emissions reduction targets, stands in opposition to the plain language meaning of this 2021 majority-supported shareholder proposal.
EOS believed that this board response to this 2021 majority vote result was inappropriate, and that the chair of the Public Policy and Sustainability Committee of the board should be held accountable for this inaction and lack of intentionality.
For more information, please refer to the Exempt Solicitation filing – SEC Filing | ConocoPhillips
Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting
30th April 2022
EOS at Federated Hermes recommended that all shareowners vote for the shareholder proposal that asked the company to report on climate-related risks and opportunities at the parent company level (item 3). This recommendation was based on EOS’ view that climate risk disclosure at the registrant’s parent company level is necessary to provide shareholders with a complete and comparable picture of the climate-related financial risks that the company is facing. As climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy pose critical risks to investors, all companies should appraise and disclose physical and transitional climate risks.
The company’s current disclosures are insufficient for investors to fully appraise climate-related risks and opportunities in order to make investment decisions as shareholders can purchase shares only in the combined parent-company entity, not in the individual subsidiaries that may or may not have climate risk exposure.
In addition to the benefits to investors described above, EOS believed that the adoption of this resolution would better position the company to navigate an evolving regulatory environment. The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) 21 March 2022 calls on public companies to issue annual climate reporting at the registrant (parent company) level. Indeed, the SEC’s proposal, as currently written, would require more disclosure than the co-sponsors requested in item 3.
For more information, please refer to the EOS Press Release and Exempt Solicitation filing:
EOS at Federated Hermes does not make any investment recommendations and the above information is not an offer to buy or sell securities.
1 EOS at Federated Hermes is Hermes Equity Ownership Services Limited (“EOS”), which is a subsidiary of Federated Hermes Limited, which in turn is wholly-owned by Federated Hermes, Inc. EOS’ views and positions are those of EOS, and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of all its clients or of Federated Hermes, Inc., or its investment advisory subsidiaries, due to different goals, objectives, time horizons, obligations, or other factors.