Subpoena issued to US shareholder activist organisation
November 7th, 2023
The US House Judiciary Committee has issued a subpoena to As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy group, for documents on its work relating to climate risk.
As You Sow is a nonprofit organisation which works with companies on behalf of shareholders to help them reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the risks they face from climate change.
It has been subpoenaed by the House of Representatives standing committee to provide all documents relating to its work with companies on managing climate risk, over potential violations of US antitrust law.
The organisation, along with similar shareholder rights bodies, received a letter in August from the Committee stating they were “potentially violating US antitrust law by entering into agreements to ‘decarbonize’ corporate assets and reduce emissions to net zero – with potentially harmful effects on Americans’ freedom and economic well-being”.
Danielle Fugere, president and chief counsel for As You Sow, said: “We are deeply disappointed in the House Judiciary Committee’s decision to issue this subpoena as part of a broader anti-climate investigation.
“Although we will continue to work with the Committee to answer reasonable questions, the subpoena is flawed, with demands that are inapplicable to As You Sow, and is so broad as to be virtually unbounded.”
The organisation denied the antitrust allegations and said its work increases competition and fosters new, low-cost energy innovations.
It also said the Committee’s “antitrust theory – which appears to be that shareholders must not ask about or act on material risks associated with climate change — inappropriately injects the Committee’s judgment into private sector business decisions”.
Fugere said: “Shareholders have a right to engage in climate-related discussions with the corporations they own. Shareholders also have a legal right to file proposals to elevate critical concerns.
“It is well within investor rights to work with companies and peers to reduce climate risk.”Last Updated: 7 November 2023