It’s a common tactic among groups promoting climate alarmism and anti-hydrocarbon policies. As evidence mounts that manmade catastrophic climate change is not imminent, extreme weather events cannot be linked to human activities, and developing nations will not reduce their use of fossil fuels, radical groups have increasingly targeted companies with campaigns based on supposed ethical principles.
A recent target is the J. M. Smucker Company, maker of jams, syrups, and Dunkin’ Donuts, Folgers, Kava and Millstone coffees. Calvert Investment Management and Trillium Asset Management bought enough shares to entitle them to introduce agenda-driving resolutions at shareholder meetings.
The activists’ August 2011 resolution demanded that Smucker explain how climate change will affect temperature and rainfall patterns, the supply and price of coffee, and thus investors. Seventy percent of Smucker voters rejected the resolution, but the activists parlayed the vote into several press releases designed to harass and eventually intimidate the company into complying with their climate change mantra, as well as “sustainability,” “fair trade” and “certification” demands.
Each demand advances similar goals: coerce companies to pressure politicians to adopt the activists’ agenda; silence corporate support for opposing viewpoints; and increase the activists’ revenue stream, by “persuading” the company to pay them hefty fees for “official certifications” that corporate practices and purchases adhere to the activists’ politicized standards on various “ethical” matters.
Climate change. Calvert and Trillium correctly observe that temperature, rainfall and other climate variability affects changes in coffee yields around the world. Ditto for all crops, one might add.
However, for them to assert that climate changes result primarily from human carbon dioxide emissions is a matter of ideological belief, not scientific fact. Climate changes; it always has and always will – on regional and sometimes global scales. Greenhouse gases exert a warming effect; but how much, especially in the context of countless planetary, solar and other forces, is a matter of intense debate.
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