27 Apr 2011 Climate Change Risk Disclosure Shareholder Proposal Faces GE Shareholders
CEO Jeff Immelt Has Imposed Numerous Risks on the Company, Says National Center for Public Policy Research
Washington, D.C. – Officials from the National Center for Public Policy Research will present a Climate Change Risk Disclosure shareholder proposal (#4 in the proxy statement) at the GE shareholder meeting Wednesday. If adopted, the proposal will require GE management to follow SEC guidance by disclosing the business risk from changes in the scientific, legislative and political landscape regarding developments in climate change.
General Electric has a significant financial stake in government climate policies.
Participating in the shareholder meeting are Tom Borelli, Ph.D., director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project, David A. Ridenour, vice president of the National Center, and Deneen Borelli, full-time fellow of the National Center-sponsored Project 21 black leadership network.
“The shareholder proposal was based on guidance issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which voted in 2010 to encourage corporations to disclose the possible business and legal impact of climate change to shareholders,” said Dr. Tom Borelli. “Many CEOs have not been forthcoming about the business risk related to changes in climate change policies and have failed to exercise their fiduciary responsibility by not assessing and communicating the impact of emissions regulations on their businesses.”
GE petitioned the SEC to permit it to reject consideration of the proposal, but the SEC ruled in favor of the National Center for Public Policy Research.
Polling conducted by the National Center for Public Policy Research and FreedomWorks in October 2010 reveal GE has further placed itself at financial risk by alienating conservative consumers.
“Among self-identified conservatives, which is 42% of the U.S. population, GE had a 51% favorable and 25% unfavorable rating until they learned that GE lobbied for President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan, from which it benefited, and for cap-and-trade,” said David Ridenour. “Then the numbers almost switched: 20% favorable and 50% unfavorable.”
“What’s more, added Ridenour, “our polling showed sixty percent of conservative voters are less likely to buy products from companies that have lobbied in favor of Obama’s legislative agenda, as GE repeatedly has done, and in a high-profile manner. GE is driving away these consumers by lobbying for big government.”
Polling results are available at http://www.nationalcenter.org/teapartysurvey.pdf.
In 2011, the National Center and FreedomWorks jointly produced a commercial questioning the leadership of GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt.
The National Center’s work critical of GE lobbying efforts has received extensive publicity in recent years, including numerous appearances by Dr. Tom Borelli on the nation’s #1 cable news broadcast, the Fox News Channel’s “O’Reilly Factor.” Independent news organizations have reported that GE’s Immelt retaliated against some news organizations by withholding advertising.
The National Center for Public Policy Research personnel will participate in the “Fire Jeff Immelt Rally” being organized by Utah Rising, FreedomWorks and local Tea Party organizations before the shareholder meeting. Dr. Tom Borelli and Deneen Borelli are scheduled speakers.
“I’m disappointed that GE’s board of directors has not stepped up and dismissed Immelt,” said Deneen Borelli. “Under his leadership, GE has been plagued with a series of ethical, legal and moral issues. Immelt’s tenure as chief executive has harmed the company’s reputation, and his partnership with President Obama to raise energy prices will reduce economic growth and export jobs overseas.”
The National Center for Public Policy Research, established in 1982, is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 recent supporters. It receives less than 1% of its revenue from corporate sources.