The power of shareholders

Green Century Capital Management, one of the groups in The Public Interest Network, is harnessing the power of shareholders on behalf of the environment and making a difference.


Staff | TPIN
Leslie Samuelrich, President of Green Century Capital Management.

In the past seven months, our affiliated upstart family of socially responsible mutual funds has helped convince seven major corporations to commit to reduce carbon emissions, increase renewable energy, save tropical forests, and protect public health.

Our network started Green Century back in 1991, and it has housed our shareholder advocacy work ever since. Green Century applies an environmental screen to affiliated mutual funds’ investments and proactively seeks out companies with positive environmental stories. But Green Century also leverages its status as shareholders to change corporate practices and plows its profits back into more advocacy and activism. (Green Century is owned by state PIRGs and the network’s Fund for the Public Interest.) For example:

  • In December, Verizon announced a commitment to begin a transition to clean energy by getting 50 percent of all of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025.
  • In January, Aramark (they provide food service at ballparks, universities, hospitals, etc.) agreed to take steps toward zero deforestation, including a transition to sustainable soy and palm oil.
  • In February, Amazon announced it will take some responsibility for its carbon footprint by making half of its package deliveries carbon-neutral by 2030.
  • In March, Darden (owner of Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse) moved to protect the effectiveness of antibiotics by agreeing to stop buying chicken from suppliers that overuse them.
  • In April, Royal Caribbean, the second-largest cruise company in the world, agreed to make its food waste management and reduction strategies more public.
  • In May, Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the U.S., agreed to develop and implement a no-deforestation policy for its private label products; and Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., committed to setting its first company-wide goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2019.

All seven actions came after Green Century’s shareholder advocates engaged the companies, filed resolutions, and/or sat down with company officials to iron out the commitments.

Doug Phelps, president and executive director of The Public Interest Network and a member of Green Century’s board of trustees said, “It is important for public interest groups to applaud when a company like Verizon, or Amazon, or Kroger takes positive steps on the environment and public health. Green Century harnesses the power of shareholders and the expertise of its staff to nudge more companies in the right direction.”

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