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Under Armour to issue climate change policy next year following questions from NY pension fund

Under Armour is crafting a climate change strategy for the company and may set specific goals for increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy use, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Baltimore-based athletic apparel maker said.

The company outlined the plans in response to questions raised by investors in a New York pension fund. The New York State Common Retirement Fund, the nation’s third-largest public pension plan, had planned to propose that stockholders at Under Armour’s annual meeting in May request a report on the brand’s climate change mitigation strategies.

Instead, Under Armour agreed to give the fund’s trustee, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, a status update on its strategy within a year, the time frame suggested by the pension fund.

“Under Armour aims for a strategic climate change approach that addresses our material impact and meets external stakeholder expectations,” Michael Levine, Under Armour’s vice president of sustainability, wrote in a Feb. 20 letter to the New York comptroller’s office.

The pension fund asked for a sustainability report from Under Armour after rival Nike made a public commitment to change over to 100 percent renewable energy at a still-to-be-determined date, said Mark Johnson, a spokesman for the comptroller’s office.

The pension fund made a similar request to Dollar General because the chain operates numerous stores, including many in rural communities where there have been low levels of renewable energy usage, he said. Dollar General said it is finalizing an inaugural report on its energy and environmental efforts that will be posted on its website.

Under Armour said its update to the trustee next year would include a review of mitigation strategies and the feasibility of adopting company-wide energy efficiency goals. The company also is developing a climate change policy that will require board approval, Levine said in the letter.

The pension fund’s proposed shareholder resolution regarding Under Armour noted that many major companies are finding measures to reduce greenhouse gases both practical and cost-effective.

“Unfortunately, Under Armour’s website is silent on specific, measurable plans to increase the use of renewable energy or curb [greenhouse gas] emissions,” the proposed resolution said. “As such, Under Armour lags behind its many peers in the fashion and apparel industry who have already committed to 100 percent renewable energy.”

Under Armour has said some sustainability efforts include making shirts using a brand of fiber made from recycled plastic bottles and using virtual, three-dimensional images rendered via computer instead of samples for some new product prototypes and sizing. Using computer images helps save an estimated 6,100 yards of material a year.

Levine has said the brand has a goal of increasing recycled polyester for certain products by 15 percent by 2020.

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