Climate change resolution voted down at Standard Bank AGM

Originally published on Business Live on 30 May 2019

Only 38% of shareholders were in favour of the resolution for the bank to disclose its exposure to climate change risk

The first climate risk-related resolution tabled at Standard Bank’s AGM on Thursday failed to pass when 61% of shareholders voted against it.

If it had been passed, the resolution would have required SA’s largest bank to publicly disclose information about the extent to which it is involved in activities that expose it to climate change risk.  

This was, however, the first time in SA that shareholders have tabled and voted on such a resolution. It was proposed by the Raith Foundation and shareholder activist Theo Botha, with support from Just Share, a responsible investment non-profit organisation. 

Standard Bank’s chair Thulani Gcabashe said that while the board was in agreement that such a resolution should be part of the agenda, it recommended that shareholders vote against it on the basis that it was not practical to implement.

Tracey Davies, executive director of Just Share, said that although the resolution was not passed, a shareholder vote of 38% in favour of SA’s first climate risk-related resolution was a victory in an of itself.

Another resolution put on the agenda by the same activists did succeed and is binding: Standard Bank must adopt and publicly disclose a policy on lending to coal-fired power projects and coal mining operations.

The Raith Foundation and Botha, again with the support of Just Share, had attempted to have a climate risk-related resolution tabled at Sasol’s AGM in November 2018, but the company refused to allow it after taking legal advice on the issue.

Cover image by Financial Mail.

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