By Tasneem Bulbulia
June 1, 2019 - In a first for South Africa, climate-conscious shareholders of Standard Bank have compelled the bank to adopt and publicly disclose a policy on lending to coal-fired power projects and coal mining operations.
Fifty-five percent of shareholders in attendance at the bank’s annual general meeting on Thursday, voted in favor of the resolution, making it binding on the company.
The resolution was proposed by activist shareholders, the Raith Foundation and Theo Botha, with support from responsible investment and shareholder activism organization Just Share.
A second part of the climate-related resolution was, however, not passed, with only 38% of shareholders voting in favor of it.
This part of the resolution would have required the bank to report to shareholders its assessment of the greenhouse-gas emissions resulting from its financing portfolio and its exposure to climate change risk in its lending, investing and financing activities.
“We are extremely encouraged by the levels of support for both parts of the resolution.
“Considering that this was the first time shareholders in South Africa have had to vote on such a resolution, and also that the board recommended that they vote against it, the results are significant,” says Just Share executive director Tracey Davies.
She adds that this shows that there is a broad section of the investment community that understands the importance of acting on climate risk.
“We commend the shareholders who voted in favor of the resolution, like Mergence Investment Managers, Old Mutual, Aeon Investment Management and many others who were bold enough to support the resolutions and provide the climate leadership that is so desperately needed within South Africa’s financial and business sector.”