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Duke Energy agrees to disclose business effect of Paris Agreement’s climate-change goal

Duke Energy Corp. agreed to disclose in a report this quarter how its business will be impacted by the Paris Agreement's goal of limiting the average global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius, a Duke spokesman confirmed.

New York state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli requested such a report in a shareholder proposal last year that was supported by 46% of shareholders at Duke's annual meeting May 4.

Mr. DiNapoli is sole trustee of the $201.3 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, which had about $148 million invested in Duke as of Dec. 31.

Along with New York State Common, the proposal was supported by the $355.5 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento; $221.7 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento; $146 billion Texas Teacher Retirement System, Austin; $195.6 billion Florida State Board of Administration, Tallahassee; C$180.5 billion ($145.4 billion) Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, Toronto; and C$328.2 billion Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Toronto.

"Duke Energy is listening to its shareholders who need to know how the company is preparing to address the risks and opportunities presented by the worldwide efforts to mitigate climate change," Mr. DiNapoli said in a news release Thursday announcing Duke's agreement. "Climate change, and the fight to combat it, pose significant risks for the energy sector's long-term value, but forward-thinking companies are adapting with new strategies that embrace low-carbon technologies, grid modernization and renewable energies. Shareholders look forward to learning how Duke Energy will align its long-term planning with efforts to reduce global warming."

Duke originally recommended that shareholders vote against the proposal.

Mr. DiNapoli reached similar agreements with Exxon Mobil Corp. and PPL Corp. last year after climate-change proposals were supported by a majority of shareholders at the companies' annual meetings.

“Duke Energy recognizes that climate change is a key issue for many of our customers and shareholders,” the Duke spokesman said in an email. “As we've met with a variety of stakeholders, we discussed how Duke Energy is working toward a lower carbon future, modernizing our system to meet the needs of our customers and strengthening our system against extreme weather events. To make this information more accessible, we plan to publish in the first quarter of 2018 a climate report that details our progress to date and our strategy moving forward.”