A shareholder resolution lodged with the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) urging it to stop financing coal, oil and gas expansion has reportedly been shunned by proxy advisers ahead of CBA’s annual general meeting on Wednesday.
The resolution calls on Australia’s largest bank to disclose information demonstrating that its financing won’t be used for the purposes of new or expanded fossil fuel projects.
Proxy advisers including the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) have reportedly recommended shareholders vote against the resolution.
In a statement issued to InvestorDaily, Market Forces asset management campaigner, Will van de Pol, has urged proxy advisers to rethink their stance.
“Proxy advisers should be aligning their voting recommendations with their investor clients' climate commitments, and encouraging action that minimises the massive economy-wide financial risks posed by further global warming,” Mr van de Pol told InvestorDaily.
“Institutional investors including Australia's super funds and global asset managers like BlackRock and Vanguard have all made their own commitments to the climate goals of the Paris Agreement and net zero emissions by 2050,” he said.
“Big investors must recognise meeting global climate goals requires no new fossil fuel projects, and vote in favour of this resolution,” Mr van de Pol added.
Moreover, the campaigner accused the CBA of undermining its climate commitments by continuing to finance companies pursuing new fossil fuel projects, such as Glencore and Santos.
The environmental finance campaigning organisation has also lodged shareholder resolutions with ANZ, NAB and Westpac, whose AGMs are scheduled to be held in December. Australian Ethical co-filed the NAB and Westpac resolutions along with more than 100 shareholders.
“Despite committing to support the Paris Agreement and net zero emissions by 2050, all of Australia's big four banks are still financing companies with coal, oil and gas expansion plans that undermine those climate goals,” said Mr van de Pol.
“It’s unacceptable to a growing number of retail shareholders and institutional investors that Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, NAB and Westpac are exposing themselves to heightened risk by financing companies that are worsening the climate crisis.”
Market Forces drew attention to a number of investments made by the big four banks that it claimed went against their climate commitments including the co-financing of a $1.4 billion dollar deal to Santos related to its Barossa gas project.
Jon Bragg is a journalist for Momentum Media's Investor Daily, nestegg and ifa. He enjoys writing about a wide variety of financial topics and issues and exploring the many implications they have on all aspects of life.