GRC Week: Engine No 1 invests in GM and Carl Icahn takes a stake in Southwest Gas

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CNBC reported that activist investor Engine No 1, which rose to prominence after running a successful campaign for seats on ExxonMobil’s board, announced an investment in General Motors on Monday, signaling its support for the automaker in its transition to electric vehicles. GM, unlike ExxonMobil, is taking concrete action in what the company sees as imperative for long-term success: linking ESG criteria to economic performance.

“GM, with the support of a really strong management team and an excellent board of directors, has decided that [it’s] will embrace the future. [It’s] will make the necessary investments to be successful during this transition, ”said Engine No 1 founder Chris James. In January, GM announced its intention to offer electric vehicles exclusively by 2035, part of a larger plan to become carbon neutral by 2040.

The Wall Street Journal reported that a federal jury found that Tesla subjected a former black worker to a racially hostile work environment and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent him from being racially harassed. The jury awarded more than $ 130 million in damages to Owen Diaz, who worked as an elevator operator at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., In 2015 and 2016. He was regularly treated with racial epithets at work, where he saw racist images and language written in the bathroom and elsewhere, Bernard Alexander, one of his lawyers, said during the trial.

A Tesla lawyer said in oral argument that there was no evidence that a Tesla employee harassed Diaz and that the company should not be held responsible for the treatment alleged by Diaz. Many workers at the Tesla factory are contractors employed by recruitment agencies. Tesla’s vice president of personnel, Valerie Capers Workman, said in an email to employees on Monday that when Diaz complained of harassment, the company made sure its recruiting agencies took action.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the verdict or any plans to appeal.

Reuters reported that Glass Lewis recommended that NextGen Healthcare shareholders elect the roster of executive directors, joining ISS to support the board and management in relation to company founder Sheldon Razin. Razin, who has served on the board since 1974, appointed four directors and criticized the company’s financial performance. “Given the circumstances, we believe shareholders are likely to be better served to support the current board roster, a roster that already reflects an important refresh that includes the company’s recently hired CEO and three other new nominees,” the Glass Lewis report said.

– Mars CEO Grant Reid has warned that “too often” companies’ commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fall short and threaten to undermine their credibility and needed change in climate action, according to The Guardian. Reid’s comments, and those of Mars Chief Sustainability and Purchasing Officer Barry Parkin, come after climate activist Greta Thunberg condemned many of the climate actions promised by world leaders as being so “blah, blah, blah “.

“We’ve all heard from Greta,” Parkin said. – Greta is right. It is not a question of objective, but of progress and it is the actions that count. ‘ On Tuesday, Mars set new science-based climate goals to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions across all of its operations by 2050, including all those created by its suppliers and emissions from consumers using its brands. Its commitments also include linking executive compensation to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

CNBC reported that activist investor Carl Icahn has announced a significant stake in Southwest Gas and is pushing the Las Vegas-based utility company to drop its rumor of acquiring natural gas company Questar Pipeline. “In recent years, the management of [Southwest Gas] made a number of glaring mistakes to the detriment of shareholders. [But] the purchase of Questar that you are currently making at the price that you are willing to pay will make any past mistakes pale in comparison, ”Icahn wrote in a letter to Southwest’s board of directors. “The purchase will result in a serious decrease in shareholder value.”

Southwest did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The Guardian said that, according to analysis by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the fossil fuel industry receives subsidies of $ 11 million per minute. The IMF found that the production and combustion of coal, oil and gas were subsidized to the tune of $ 5.9 billion in 2020, with no country pricing all its fuels enough to reflect their full cost. supply and their environmental costs. Experts said the subsidies “added fuel to the fire” of the climate crisis.

Setting fossil fuel prices that reflect their true cost would reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by more than a third, IMF analysts said. This would be a big step towards achieving the internationally agreed 1.5 ° C target. Keeping this goal within reach is a key goal of the UN Cop26 climate summit in November.

More than 600 companies in the We Mean Business Coalition, including Unilever, Ikea, Aviva, Siemens and Volvo Cars, recently urged G20 leaders to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.

– Mars CEO Grant Reid has warned that “too often” companies’ commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fall short and threaten to undermine their credibility and needed change in climate action, according to The Guardian. Reid’s comments, and those of Mars Chief Sustainability and Purchasing Officer Barry Parkin, come after climate activist Greta Thunberg condemned many of the climate actions promised by world leaders as being so “blah, blah, blah “.

– Standard Chartered is expected to face a vote next year on whether the bank is adjusting enough to meet its net zero commitments, reported Bloomberg. Nonprofits Market Forces and Friends Provident Foundation co-filed a resolution with the bank, calling on it to “match its net zero rhetoric to action.” The case asks the bank to manage fossil fuel exposure in accordance with a scenario of global net zero emissions by mid-century, to set short, medium and long term targets for fossil fuel exposure and stop funding for new fossil fuel projects, Bloomberg said.


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