ATLANTA —Shareholder resolutions filed at Southern Company by shareholder advocacy group, As You Sow, and faith-based investor coalition, the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment (“Tri-State CRI”) sent Southern Company’s Board and management a strong message: the time has come to reduce carbon asset risk and align its business with a “2 degrees” climate scenario. Southern Company, which generates the third highest level of carbon dioxide of U.S. utilities, and uses the third highest level of coal, has been the subject of investor attention in recent years.
The shareholder resolutions received strong support from Southern Company investors:
- As You Sow’s resolution pushed Southern to quantify and disclose its “carbon asset risk”, or the potential losses to shareholders from coal operations. The resolution received preliminary results of 29% of shares voted in support, representing approximately $13 billion in investor assets. Southern’s newest coal plant, Kemper, is two years behind schedule, $4 billion over budget, and is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
- The Tri-State CRI resolution, filed by Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, NJ, and 9 institutions, requests Southern disclose its strategy for aligning business operations with the internationally accepted goal of limiting global warming temperature increase to 2˚C. The resolution received 34% of shares voted in favor, representing approximately $15 billion in investors assets, increasing pressure on Southern to share its plans for modifying its business model to meet the 2˚C target.
“Investors are clear: Southern must provide a transparent plan for addressing the risks and opportunities of its transition to a low carbon economy,” said Mary Beth Gallagher, Associate Director at Tri-State CRI. A youth member of Georgia Sierra Club (which co-filed the business model resolution) Marinangeles Gutierrez added, “Southern must take meaningful steps towards a low carbon future, not only for the sake of ratepayers but also for its stakeholders, vulnerable frontline communities, and future generations.”
Amelia Timbers, As You Sow’s Energy Program Manager, agreed: “Adopting a low-carbon business model could reduce the carbon asset risk of Southern Company’s coal fleet. Until it takes action, Southern’s investors are exposed to losses.”