January 31, 2017
The past few years, Plymouth Church has worked with Trillium Asset Management to press some companies whose shares are held in our Endowment to improve their environmental and social policies, practices and impacts. These efforts focus on corporate dollars in politics, economic inequality and climate change.
The last two years, we dedicated attention to EOG Resources, Inc. an oil and gas exploration and production company based in Texas. One of the biggest concerns with oil and gas companies like EOG, is their methane emissions. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas. It is 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide and accounts for 25% of the global warming that we are currently experiencing. When methane leaks from wellheads, storage and distribution systems, not only is it lost product, it has the potential to enormously damage our climate system.
This combination of environmental and financial impact gives shareholders, like Plymouth Church, a unique and powerful voice with a company like EOG. It gives our voice and our concerns added weight.
And for a company, the first stage of acknowledging there may be a problem is to shed light on what is going on. Display some meaningful numbers, and a company will be more motivated to make sure those numbers show it is being a well-run company that is not polluting.
At EOG this meant persuading the company to disclose how much methane it emits every year (its total emissions) and what its emission rate is. Getting this information into the public sphere allows us to compare EOG’s performance to other companies and allows us to understand if those emissions are going down over time.
With that context in mind, we are delighted that through our work with Trillium and its engagements with EOG on behalf of Plymouth Church and other environmentally conscious investors, EOG agreed earlier this month to provide multiple quantitative metrics that will let us assess how well it is controlling and reducing its methane emissions. These numbers will be made public later this year.
The key is that through this process of engagement and disclosure, EOG is making significant and meaningful reductions in its methane emissions. By taking advantage of Plymouth Church’s place at the negotiating table and its uniquely persuasive position, Plymouth Church positively impacts our shared effort to forestall the worst effects of climate change. – Don Schlosser, Chair, Plymouth Investment Committee