BC Union Gets Powerful Endorsement from Advisory Firm on Its Net-Zero Demands
BCGEU Shareholder Proposal to $690B giant deemed "reasonably crafted," "warranted," and "flexible."
BURNABY – Ahead of the June 10 annual meeting of shareholders, influential proxy advisor Glass Lewis has endorsed the B.C. General Employees' Union's (BCGEU) shareholder proposal at Brookfield Asset Management (TSX:BAM.A), which would compel two of the company's largest affiliates to set clear, Paris-aligned emissions reductions targets by 2025.
"It's not enough for Brookfield's subsidiaries to show symbolic support for the firm's climate action goals – they need to provide hard numbers, so that shareholders and concerned citizens, like our union, can hold them accountable," the leader of the union representing over 85,000 working British Columbians says. "Our proposal is a huge opportunity for Brookfield to rebuild shareholder trust after its 2021 blunder."
Last year, critics slammed Brookfield for falsely boasting a 100 per cent, net-zero investment portfolio and accused the company of greenwashing. Smith says the climate crisis is at a tipping point: "there's no room for misleading statistics from powerful investment machines that can help steer us out of the fire – we need real action, not rhetoric."
Through affiliates Brookfield Business Partners (BBU) and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (BIP), the private equity firm can put a real dent in global carbon emissions – especially at BBU, where Brookfield claims a 64% ownership stake. Right now, neither affiliate discloses their reduction targets, even though Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) found that Brookfield assumes a high climate risk exposure because of its heavy investment in fossil-fuels.
BCGEU believes emissions reduction targets from BBU and BIP will become more pressing following Brookfield's May 12 announcement to split its asset management business from its proprietary assets business as the contributions of BBU and BIP to Brookfield's financial results will increase.
The BCGEU is a long-term minority shareholder in Brookfield Asset Management. The union has been directly wielding its collective shareholder power to make companies more just, fair and environmentally sustainable since 2018. Some of its wins include a human rights commitment from RBC to stop doing business with the United States private prison industry, a commitment from Saputo to reduce its food waste by 50 per cent by 2035, and a move by Thomson Reuters to adopt the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
"In a world where working people often feel powerless against mounting ecological disaster, BCGEU members are showing their neighbours that we do have a say in our future. We can course correct, and we can pressure big players to do the right thing and put money where it will thrive – in sustainable investments, not volatile markets that hurt investors, workers, and the planet," said Smith.
Brookfield Asset Management's annual general meeting takes place on June 10, 2022. The virtual meeting will be available at this link.
View the BCGEU's investor letter here
The company's response to the proposal can be found in its management circular on page 79.
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BCGEU Headquarters is on the unceded and shared traditional territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skxwú7mesh (Squamish) & Səlí̓ lwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples.