Anti-coal lobby happy with Standard Bank vote on disclosing carbon emissions

Supporters of a Standard Bank resolution which says the bank should disclose its climate change risk say they are pleased with the 38% vote they received at the financial institution’s annual general meeting on Thursday.

Some 58% of shareholders voted against a resolution to get the bank to declare the carbon risk it faces from financing projects which contribute to global warming.

The resolution was proposed by the Raith Foundation, a non-profit social justice organisation,shareholder activist Theo Botha, and Just Share, a socially responsible investment non-profit organisation.

But a second resolution, which requires the bank to adopt and publicly disclose a policy on lending to coal-fired power projects and coal mining operations, was passed with the support of 55.09% of shareholders.

Before the vote, meeting chair Tim Gcabashe said that the bank supports the disclosure of climate risk, but it needs more time before it can agree to the resolution.

“From a governance point of view while the board is not against the substance of the resolution and its very much aware of how [important] it is to reduce greenhouse emissions, we are strong defenders of open inclusive and evidence led public debate. Policy debate should happen at times and places were all relevant stakeholders can be adequate represented and their views can be taken into account,” Gcabashe said.

Tracey Davies, Just Share’s executive director, supported the second resolution and said that the 38% voted in favour of the second resolution which was unprecedented for an undertaking of this nature, especially because it is the first time that a South African company has tabled it.

“We are extremely encouraged by the levels of support for both parts of the resolution. Considering that this was the first time shareholders in SA have had to vote on such a resolution, and also that the board recommended that they vote against it, the results are significant. They show that there is a broad section of our investment community which understands the importance of acting on climate risk,” Davies explained.

Nico Czypionka, former Standard Bank chief economist-turned-shareholder, told the meeting that the proposed resolution is a form of persuasion by “lobbyists” aimed at forcing the bank to follow their demands.

“We have elected this board and we have confidence in them and it’s for that reason that I do not believe that outsider parties , and single issue groups or lobbies should be able to bully banks and other institutions to report on specific issues,” Czypionka said.

“It’s only hidden on the demand of transparency, but ultimately, its something else, it is to try to enforce companies, banks and others to comply with their dogma on certain issues. Companies and banks are required to take a balanced approach to all the problems that confront them.”

Czypionka said that for every decision, there are consequences which need to be fully scrutinised.

“Companies in Africa are producers of fossil fuel and they have requirements for employment and we are contradictory if we want the closure of mines – I believe it will be wrong to succumb to the pressures of this kind,” he concluded.

Tshegofatso Mathe
Tshegofatso Mathe is a financial trainee journalist at the Mail & Guardian
Advertisting

Hlophe complaint is an eerie echo

But the new complaint against the Western Cape judge president is also unprecedented

Mabuza contract grows by R10m

Eskom’s negotiators in a R100-million maintenance contract came back with a proposal to push up the costs

‘There were no marks on his neck’, Neil Aggett inquest...

The trade unionist’s partner at the time he was detained at John Vorster Square says she now believes his death was not a suicide

Study unpacks the ‘hidden racism’ at Stellenbosch

Students say they feel unseen and unheard at the university because of their skin colour
Advertising

Press Releases

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.