Washington, D.C. – Today, Walmart investors voted on the first-ever shareholder resolution on refrigerants and their related climate impacts. The initial count indicates 5.5 percent of investors voted in favor of the proposal filed by Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner, urging Walmart to disclose how it will limit its impact on climate change by increasing the scale, pace, and rigor of its plans to significantly scale back hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in its operations.
The 5.5 percent outcome is particularly significant, since the first-year resolution only needed to meet the threshold of 5 percent support to be considered in a second year. This puts considerable pressure on Walmart to listen to concerned shareholders and take action on HFCs. Walmart had advised its investors to vote against the resolution to report on its HFC emissions and its notable that the Walton family holds nearly half of Walmart’s shares.
Walmart uses highly potent HFCs, which are greenhouse gases with thousands of times the warming power of carbon dioxide. HFCs are rapidly leaking out of Walmart facilities and make up 48 percent of the company’s direct climate-damaging emissions. Walmart emits over three million metric tons of HFCs, equating to more than half a million cars on the road each year. Several competitors of Walmart, including Aldi and Target, are far ahead in adopting climate-friendly refrigerants in their stores.
“Today’s shareholder vote shows that a growing number of investors are concerned that Walmart’s 2040 target for phasing down HFC climate super-pollutants is out of step with global and domestic policy,” said Beth Porter, Climate Campaigns Director for Green America. “The resolution received enough support to be re-introduced next year, and in the meantime, investors and consumers will continue pressuring Walmart to cut its HFC emissions on a more rapid timeline.”
“Today’s vote is a pivotal step in investors calling on Walmart to address its largest source of direct climate emissions,” said Christina Starr, Senior Policy Analyst for the Environmental Investigation Agency. “As more and more investors care about meaningful climate action, pressure will mount on supermarkets like Walmart to address refrigerant leaks and stop using super-polluting HFCs quickly.”
Green America and the Environmental Investigation Agency are running campaigns to mobilize consumer pressure to get Walmart to address its HFC leaks and adopt ultra-low-Global Warming Potential (GWP) alternatives rapidly. The company took a voluntary pledge in 2010 to begin phasing out HFCs, but its emissions have steadily increased since then.
In September 2020, after years of mounting public pressure through advocacy campaigns and growing regulatory progress on refrigerants, Walmart finally announced a goal to transition to “low-impact” refrigerants by 2040 but has provided no details of how it will meet this target nor specifics on what refrigerants it plans to adopt. The best practice for lowering climate impacts is to use “ultra-low GWP” refrigerant options with a GWP less than 5 instead of “low-GWP”, which can still have hundreds of times the warming potential of CO2.
Lindsay Moran, EIA Head of Communications, [email protected]