Investec Finally Wakes Up to Climate Change

  • Investec has tabled the most significant climate change shareholder resolution for a JSE-listed company to date.
  • The bank has come under much pressure from the likes of non profit shareholder activist organisation, Just Share.
  • Their climate action shareholder resolution receives 99.9% support. 
  • Investec was recently fingered as one of the banks interested in financing the controversial Karpowership SA gas to power ships in South Africa’s Risk Mitigation IPP Procurement Programme. Read more  

Rather than asking shareholders to vote on the bank’s climate risk-related disclosure, Investec’s resolution explicitly requires the company to take action to address its “financed emissions”, or the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with its lending and investment portfolio.

Investec’s resolution asked shareholders to “authorise and direct the Investec group and its directors to commit to disclose:

  • A baseline of the Investec Group’s scope 3 financed emissions;
  • Its strategy to reduce scope 3 emissions; and
  • Its short, medium and long term targets to reach net-zero emissions and align with the Paris goals, based on a geographic approach that is guided by (but not limited to) the net-zero trajectories of our two core jurisdictions, being South Africa and the UK”.

The resolution is the first in South Africa explicitly to require alignment with the goals of the Paris Agreement. While the resolution took the form of a non-binding advisory vote, the fact that it received 99.97% of shareholder support demonstrates how important this information is for shareholders.

Related news: A dark carbon cloud hangs over Investec Bank

The emissions, strategy and targets will be reported for the financial year ending 31 March 2022.

South Africa’s big banks have significantly improved their climate risk disclosure in the past two years, but the pace and scale of action is still far from what is needed to support rapid decarbonisation, and a just transition to a low-carbon, inclusive economy, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Nedbank is the only major South African bank so far to have set short-, medium-, and long-term targets for reducing its exposure to fossil fuels. Nedbank’s energy policy commits to the bank having “zero exposure to all activities related to fossil fuels [except when required to back up renewable power]by 2045”.

Standard Bank has committed to publishing, in 2022, a climate strategy, and short-, medium-, and long-term targets to reduce its exposure to fossil fuel assets on a timeline aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

By contrast, Investec’s resolution requires the setting of targets not only for its fossil fuel exposure, but for the GHG emissions associated with its entire lending and investment portfolio.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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