A proposal calling on home improvement retail giant Home Depot to increase its deforestation elimination efforts received support from a majority of shareholders at the company’s annual meeting on Thursday.
The proposal, filed by environmentally and socially responsible investment manager Green Century, asked Home Depot to “to issue a report assessing if and how it could increase the scale, pace, and rigor of its efforts to eliminate deforestation and the degradation of primary forests in its supply chains,” suggesting that the company include an assessment of whether it has adopted a no-deforestation and no-degradation policy to avoid primary forests and that the company provide progress reports, and time-bound action plans on its deforestation efforts.
Following the meeting, Green Century President Leslie Samuelrich said:
“It’s a good day for the world’s forests, from Canada’s boreal to the tropical rainforests of South America, and for the species that depend on them. We are pleased that a majority of Home Depot’s shareholders have called on the company to accelerate action to end deforestation and the clear-cutting of old growth trees in its supply chains.”
The resolution noted that timber, wood products, pulp, and paper are major drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, which are in turn responsible for roughly 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. While Home Depot is a “major purchaser of wood,” the company’s purchasing policy does not meaningfully address impacts on primary forests, and its disclosure policies make it difficult to assess risk exposure, according to the resolution, opening up the company to potential competitive, reputational, financial and regulatory risk.
Home Depot, in a proxy filing released last month, had recommended against supporting the Green Century proposal, noting that the company shares the firm’s concerns regarding deforestation and degradation, the company’s policies in place address these concerns with initiatives that include giving “preference to the purchase of wood and wood products originating from certified, well-managed forests wherever feasible,” and eliminating the purchase of wood from endangered forest regions, among others.
Green Century had also filed a similar resolution at Home Depot competitor Lowe’s, and subsequently withdrew the proposal after the company agreed to disclose the impact of its wood sourcing and to develop a strategy targeting its impact on climate, biodiversity and human rights.
“Destroying ecosystems for a new set of kitchen cabinets is not the bargain that we believe that Home Depot’s customers want. Customers may now be unknowingly purchasing wood logged from endangered forests. The company has the opportunity to change this and use its market power for good.
“We look forward to working with Home Depot to implement our proposal. These issues require urgent action: The world’s forests, the species that rely upon them, and our climate cannot wait.”