Duke Energy Discloses Some Climate Lobby Data After Investor Pressure
(Bloomberg) -- Duke Energy Corp., the largest U.S. utility, released some details of its climate lobbying activities Tuesday after an investor pressured the company for more disclosure.
In a 10-page report, Duke identified the broad climate-policy positions of eight trade associations of which it is a member, ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the American Gas Association. In almost all cases, the utility said the associations’ policies were in line with its own goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, but did not detail the particular lobbying activities of those groups. Duke didn’t reveal its direct political activities, either.
The report may fall short of the type of disclosure demanded by Mercy Investment Services Inc., which filed a shareholder resolution seeking information on how Duke’s lobbying aligns with global efforts to fight climate change. Mercy withdrew the resolution in anticipation of receiving the report, according to its website.
Duke is among nearly two dozen U.S. utilities that have announced aggressive emissions-reduction goals as states and the federal government seek to combat climate change. They, along with other energy giants, now face mounting investor pressure to disclose whether they are on track to meet those goals. Most aren’t even close, according to a report by Deloitte LP.
Mercy has also called on utilities Entergy Corp. and FirstEnergy Corp to disclose their own climate lobbying activities, but neither company has committed to doing so.
Duke’s climate plan calls for cutting power-generation carbon emissions by at least 50% by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. But the company is also considering building as many as 15 new gas-fired power units. In its report Tuesday, Duke said “natural gas generation remains essential, at least for a time” and that it opposes putting a price a carbon or dictating a certain generation mix. The only association with which it was not completely aligned, according to the report, was American Clean Power, which calls for making renewables the dominant U.S. energy source.
“We think one the best ways we can help advocate for our customers is to emphasize the reliability and affordability they need while reducing emissions,” Katherine Neebe, Duke’s chief sustainability officer, said in a statement. “As trade associations hear from their various members, it helps inform and evolve their climate policy solutions.”
In Europe, some energy companies have resigned from trade groups that aren’t in line with the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. In January, Total SE said it would withdraw from the American Petroleum Institute. Last year, BP Plc left three U.S.-based industry groups including the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers.
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