SRI investors tell Nike “just do it” and resign from US Chamber of Commerce over climate controversy

September 30th, 2009


by Hugh Wheelan
Responsible Investor

US SRI and environmental fund managers, have written to Nike, the sportswear company, urging it to quit the US Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest business federation, after Nike joined other companies in criticising the Chamber’s opposition to measures tackling climate change. In a letter to Mark Parker, president and chief executive officer of Nike, fund managers Green Century Equity Fund and Newground Social Investment, alongside the Basilian Fathers of Toronto, a catholic religious order, turned Nike’s own slogan “Just do it” on the company, to urge it to quit. It follows a similar resignation this week by Exelon, the largest US nuclear power generator, and two previous resignations by utilities companies, Pacific Gas & Electric and PNM Resources. This week, Nike and Johnson & Johnson, the household products group, both criticised the chamber for its refusal to back cap-and-trade legislation proposed by the Obama administration. The US Chamber of Commerce has three million members and describes itself as the world’s largest business organisation. It has been increasingly vocal in recent months on climate change and corporate governance issues, pitting it notably against SRI investors. Last month, a senior chamber official proposed a “Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century” to evaluate global warming, referring to the 1925 trial conviction of John Scopes, a Tennessee teacher, for teaching evolution rather than the Bible’s version of creation. In July, US SRI firms and advisors attacked as “fatally flawed” a report published by the Chamber that claimed that shareholder proposals at corporate AGMs showed no clear evidence of short- or long-term improvements in operating or stock market performance of target firms and could be placing trustees in breach of their fiduciary duty under ERISA guidelines.
One SRI advisor, Creative Investment Research, invited signatories to the $18 trillion United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment to write to the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) to point out what it said were problems of bias with the research and to lobby against its influence on future SEC policy on shareholder voting.

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Nike linked to destruction of Amazon rainforest

June 9th, 2009 June 1, 2009

Top sports and fashion brands including Gucci, Adidas/Reebok, Timberland, Geox, Clarks and Nike, have been accused of contributing to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest by using leather from cattle reared on farms responsible for deforestation.

The allegations by environmental campaign group Greenpeace follow a three-year investigation into links between Brazil’s booming cattle industry and some of Britain’s biggest-selling brands.

“Running shoes, handbags and ready meals aren’t normally associated with rainforest destruction and climate change, but we’ve found a smoking gun,” Greenpeace forest campaigner Sarah Shoraka.

“This new evidence shows how UK companies are driving the destruction of the Amazon by buying beef and leather products from unscrupulous suppliers in Brazil.”

Greenpeace says cattle ranching in the Amazon region is now the single biggest cause of deforestation in the world, and the expansion of this industry is being driven by the global export market.

Its new report, entitled ‘Slaughtering the Amazon’ tracks beef and leather products from ranches involved in illegal deforestation back to the supply chains of sports and fashion brands.

The report also accuses the Brazilian government of bankrolling the destruction and undermining efforts to tackle the global climate crisis.

Greenpeace says Chinese tanneries supplied by Brazilian cattle giant Bertin produce trainers for Nike and Adidas/Reebok.

Bertin also supplies leather to the two leading Italian processors (Rino Mastrotto Group and Gruppo Mastrotto) whose customers include Boss, Geox, Gucci, Hilfiger, Louis Vuitton and Prada.

None of the companies contacted by just-style today (1 June) was able to comment.

Greenpeace is now calling on companies to stop purchasing from Brazilian suppliers who refuse to commit to cleaning up their supply chains and must support a moratorium on all deforestation for cattle ranching.

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