Lender Investec commits to greater environmental transparency
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INVESTEC yesterday committed to being more transparent with regard to its lending and investment decisions in relation to climate change.
This comes as shareholders are slowly pulling away from environmentally unsustainable investment practices such as fossil fuels.
The group’s climate risk-related disclosure has received 99.9 percent shareholder approval, the most significant climate-change shareholder resolution for a JSE-listed company to date.
The financial services company’s resolution, tabled ahead of its annual general meeting last week, explicitly required the company to take action to address greenhouse gas emissions associated with its lending and investment portfolio.
Disclosed in the integrated annual report released yesterday, Investec committed to comply with the goals of the Paris Agreement within its annual report and financial statements for the year to the end of March 2022.
Investec will disclose a baseline of its Scope 3 financed emissions and the group’s strategy to reduce its Scope 3 emissions.
It will also disclose its short-, medium- and long-term targets to reach net-zero emissions and align with the Paris Agreement goals, based on a geographic approach that is guided by the net-zero trajectories of its two core jurisdictions, South Africa and the UK.
“The Investec group acknowledges that climate change is material and poses significant opportunities and risks to the Investec group, including its ability to generate value for its shareholders over time,” it said.
“The Investec group recognises and supports the aims of the Paris Agreement.”
The resolution was developed in support with Just Share, a non-profit shareholder activism organisation lobbying for responsible investment to create a sustainable economy.
Just Share’s director for climate change engagement, Robyn Hugo, yesterday said the resolution was the first in South Africa explicitly to require alignment with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Hugo said the resolution precisely requires the company to take action to address its “financed emissions”, rather than asking shareholders to vote on the bank’s climate risk-related disclosure.
“South Africa’s big banks have significantly improved their climate risk disclosure in the past two years, but the pace and scale of action is still far from what is needed to support rapid de-carbonisation, and a just transition to a low-carbon, inclusive economy, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement,” Hugo said.
“Nedbank is the only major South African bank so far to have set short-, medium-, and long-term targets for reducing its exposure to fossil fuels.
“Standard Bank has committed to publishing, in 2022, a climate strategy, and short-, medium-, and long-term targets to reduce its exposure to fossil fuel assets on a timeline aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
“By contrast, Investec’s resolution requires the setting of targets not only for its fossil fuel exposure, but for the green-house gas emissions associated with its entire lending and investment portfolio.”