LONDON- Jupiter Asset Management, a top-25 investor in Barclays, plans to support a shareholder resolution aimed at cutting the bank’s lending to the fossil fuel industry.
Banks are increasingly under pressure from policymakers and investors to do more to help in the transition to a low-carbon economy, as agreed by countries at a landmark United Nations meeting in 2015.
The resolution, to be put to the bank’s annual general meeting on May 7, calls for Barclays to phase out financing to companies in the fossil fuel and utilities sectors which are not aligned with the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
A group of investors coordinated by responsible investment lobby group ShareAction announced the planned resolution in January. Since then, others, including Europe’s biggest asset manager, Amundi, have signalled their support.
This marks the first time a European bank has faced such shareholder action on fossil fuel financing. It calls on Barclays to go further than its previous public commitments to combat climate change by forcing it to set specific targets.
A Barclays spokesman said: “We continue to engage with ShareAction and other shareholders on this issue and will make a further statement at the appropriate time.”
The bank may make an announcement before its shareholder meeting in Glasgow to avoid a showdown vote with investors, sources told Reuters.
Jupiter currently holds 1.15% of Barclays’ shares, making it one of the 25 biggest investors in the company, Refinitiv data showed.
In a statement issued by ShareAction, Jupiter’s head of governance and sustainability Ashish Ray said the company expected all company boards to appropriately manage long-term risks to their business, such as climate change, and the resolution was “entirely consistent” with that approach.
The disclosure of corporate plans to manage and mitigate climate-related risks is a key focus of the United Nations’ incoming climate envoy, Mark Carney, and is expected to take a central role at U.N. climate talks in Glasgow in November.
Carney is due to take over as U.N. special envoy on climate finance this month after stepping down as Bank of England governor.
Specifically, Carney is keen for companies to use the Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) risk-assessment framework.
Jupiter’s Ray said: “We firmly support the recommendations of TCFD, which recognises climate change as a board-level issue and seeks disclosure of strategic planning in relation to climate risks, including practical responses to both physical and transition risks.”
Hedge fund billionaire and climate activism backer Chris Hohn has written to Barclays and several rivals urging them to reveal the scale of lending to the coal sector and classify loans made to the sector as high risk.
(Content and photos syndicated via Reuters)