The Presbyterian Church (USA), through its Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI), helped achieve the best results ever in shareholder voting on environmental issues this spring.

MRTI ― which advocates for compliance with General Assembly policy with corporations in which church investors hold stock ― filed three shareholder resolutions on environmental issues for the 2013 spring season of corporate annual meetings.

MRTI’s most resounding victory was with CF Industries, a major fertilizer company, which was  asked in a shareholder’s resolution to develop and publish a sustainability report, particularly related to risks posed by global climate change. 

The company had no publicly available policy on its environmental responsibility, and disclosed no comprehensive performance data. 

CF Industries did not respond to a request for dialogue ― MRTI’s key tactic for pressing for changes in corporate behavior ― opting instead to challenge the resolution at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). MRTI submitted a defense of the resolution, and prevailed at the SEC.

“Our resolution received 67.02% of the proxy vote, the highest ever in our over 40 year history of faith-based investing,” noted Ruling Elder Elizabeth Terry Dunning, an attorney from Salt Lake City, Utah, who chairs MRTI.

At ConocoPhillips, MRTI’s shareholder resolution called for setting a corporate-wide reduction goal for greenhouse gas emissions.  MRTI’s experience has shown that setting goals leads to more consistent measurement and pro-active management. This year the resolution received 29.43% of the shareholder vote, up from previous years.

A third resolution requested a sustainability report by Roper Industries.  It was withdrawn following discussions with company management. “This is an example of engagement through dialogue with corporate management paying off,” said the Rev. Bill Somplatsky-Jarman, the PC(USA)’s coordinator for social witness ministries and longtime MRTI staffer. 

For the first time, Roper will be reporting on its environmental efforts on the company’s web site later this year.