SHAREHOLDERS are concerned about Standard Bank’s lack of disclore and measured targets around climate change. File photo: Reuters
SHAREHOLDERS are concerned about Standard Bank’s lack of disclore and measured targets around climate change. File photo: Reuters

Shareholders want Standard Bank to set targets for reducing financing of fossil fuels

By Edward West Time of article published May 6, 2021

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THREE asset manager shareholders in Standard Bank and shareholder activist organisation Just Share have co-filed a non-binding advisory shareholder resolution ahead of the bank’s annual general meeting (AGM) on May 27, requesting it to set targets for the reduction of financing of fossil fuel projects.

Aeon Investment Management, Abax Investments, Visio Fund Management and Just Share want Standard Bank to publish the targets in its results in December 2021, “in order to promote the … sustainability of the company, taking into account the significant risks and opportunities associated with climate change”, the shareholders said.

Such targets would also be in line with the bank’s support of the Paris Agreement, they said.

The shareholders filed the resolution 23 working days before the AGM. The JSE Listing Requirements require 15 working days’ notice for ordinary resolutions.

Standard Bank has not yet indicated whether it will table the resolution, the shareholders said.

Standard Bank said in response to questions from Business Report that it was aware of the proposed resolution, which was submitted to it on April 23, “almost a month after the group had published its notice of its AGM”.

The bank said that it had informed the shareholders “that we will respond to their request once we have had the opportunity to give it due consideration”.

Standard Bank has a Coal-Fired Power Finance Policy, and a Thermal Coal Mining Policy.

In December last year, the bank released its first climate-related financial disclosures report, and a Fossil Fuels Financing Policy.

The shareholders said Standard Bank’s reporting acknowledged that climate change was material and posed significant risks, including to its ability to generate value for its shareholders over time.

“However, none of the bank’s disclosures provide any strategy or measurable targets that show how, and when, it will align its financing with this stated commitment to the Paris Agreement’s goals,” the shareholders said.

This was in contrast to Nedbank, for example, which recently released an Energy Policy targeting zero fossil fuel exposure by 2045, and including specific short-, medium- and long-term deadlines for doing so.

“Investors require more information to understand what steps Standard Bank is taking, if any, to reduce its exposure to fossil fuel assets in the short, medium and long term, on a timeline aligned with the Paris goals,” the shareholders said.

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