Boston, November 9, 2023 – Green Century Capital Management° has filed shareholder proposals at The Chemours Company and Sherwin-Williams asking each company to address risks associated with potential titanium mining along the eastern boundary of Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp. Chemours, which was spun off from DuPont in 2015, manufactures and sells “performance chemicals” including titanium dioxide, while Sherwin-Williams is a major carrier of titanium dioxide-based paint. Green Century filed at Chemours on behalf of the Felician Sisters of North America, a national order of catholic nuns that seek to leverage societal change through shareholder advocacy. The Felicians cofiled the resolution with Green Century at Sherwin-Williams.
“As we face escalating climate and biodiversity crises, disrupting the Okefenokee’s unique ecosystem with risky and unnecessary titanium mining would not only be irresponsible, but potentially catastrophic for the planet,” said Green Century President Leslie Samuelrich. “Both Chemours and Sherwin-Williams should commit to permanently protecting the Okefenokee.”
At 438,000 acres, the Okefenokee Swamp is one of the world’s largest intact freshwater wetlands. More than 402,000 acres are protected in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, the largest refuge in the eastern United States and home to hundreds of plant and animal species. The Okefenokee also stores over 400M tons of CO2 equivalent, making it one of the largest natural carbon sinks in North America.
Twin Pines Minerals, LLC has applied for permits to mine titanium on Trail Ridge, the swamp’s eastern hydrologic boundary. In 2022, Chemours stated its lack of plans for doing business with TPM or conducting mining on Trail Ridge itself, but left open future possibilities for both. Since then, TPM’s northern neighbor (with which Chemours, as DuPont, did business previously) has publicly called for mining on its land, and TPM’s new western neighbor has leased its land to Chemours for titanium mining elsewhere in Georgia.
Scientific consensus indicates that Twin Pines’ project would significantly damage the Okefenokee by drawing down its water level and increasing risk of drought and landscape-level fires. Such events could destroy swamp wildlife habitat, damage thousands of acres of adjacent private timberland and release significant carbon emissions.
“Pope Francis, in his encyclical, On Care For Our Common Home, states: ‘The earth’s resources are also being plundered because of short-sighted approaches to the economy, commerce and production,’” said Sister Jean Sliwinski, sustainability coordinator with Felician Sisters of North America. “Mining along the edge of this resource puts too much at risk with the potential for irreversible damage to this fragile ecosystem.”
These concerns have fueled heightened public attention and controversy. Over 100,000 comments were submitted to Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division opposing TPM’s draft Mining Land Use Plan in early 2023, and polling indicates that nearly 70% of Georgians want Governor Kemp to deny TPM’s permits. Furthermore, Okefenokee is being nominated for inclusion on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site List, and the issue has received significant media coverage.
While both companies have conveyed a lack of immediate plans to source titanium near the Okefenokee, each has stopped short of a permanent commitment.
“Sourcing titanium from the edge of the Okefenokee could expose Chemours and Sherwin-Williams to unnecessary climate, regulatory, legal and reputational risks,” said Annie Sanders, director of shareholder advocacy with Green Century. “It’s frankly hard to see a strong business case for supporting mining at the Okefenokee — which should dissuade any company from even thinking about it.”
About Green Century Funds
°Green Century Capital Management, Inc. (Green Century) is the investment advisor to the Green Century Funds (The Funds). The Green Century Funds are one of the first families of fossil fuel-free, environmentally responsible mutual funds. Green Century hosts an award-winning and in-house shareholder advocacy program and is the only mutual fund company in the U.S. wholly owned by environmental and public health nonprofit organizations.
*As of 9.30.2023, Sherwin-Williams comprised 0.00%, 0.33%, and 0.00% of Green Century Balanced Fund, the Green Century Equity Fund, and the Green Century International Index Fund respectively. As of the same date, other securities mentioned were not held in the portfolios of any of the Green Century Funds. References to specific securities, which will change due to ongoing management of the Funds, should not be construed as a recommendation by the Funds, their administrator, or their distributor.
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The Green Century Funds are distributed by UMB Distribution Services, LLC. 235 W Galena Street, Milwaukee, WI 53212. November/2023