Investment Fund Demands Board Chairs’ Resignations for Lagging on Climate
The board chair of Loblaw Companies is one of eight in the crosshairs of Britain’s largest asset manager, Legal & General Investment Management, which is demanding senior leadership resignations at companies it says have failed to confront the climate challenge.
LGIM, an arm of the Legal & General insurance company, is also targeting the chairs of China Construction Bank, Dominion Energy, Japan Post Holdings, Occidental Petroleum, Rosneft Oil, Subaru, and Sysco Corporation. It will also sell off shares in the eight companies held in its Future World index fund.
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“LGIM said it had already begun to use the full voting power of all of its shares to vote against the re-election of the chairmen of each of the eight companies at their annual meetings,” Reuters reports.
“After spending a year engaging with 84 of the world’s biggest firms over their climate strategies, LGIM, which manages nearly £1 trillion (US$1.3 trillion) in assets, said some were not doing enough to prepare for a low-carbon economy,” the news agency explains. “While some companies were ‘excelling’, others were ‘failing to do the bare minimum’, with a number not even responding to requests to engage” at LGIM’s request.
“We’re going to keep ratcheting up the minimum standards and our expectations from the companies,” vowed LGIM’s head of sustainability and responsible investment strategy, Meryam Omi. “It’s not a finished business.”
An email response to Reuters suggested the pushback on Loblaw, a supermarket and drug store chain that says it employs nearly 200,000 Canadians, may have been a case of broken telephone.
“Loblaw said it believed LGIM was referring to a mid-May request for information about its environmental commitments to which it had yet to reply,” Reuters states. “The Canadian firm said it intended to do so, highlighting commitments including a detailed plan to reduce its carbon footprint by 30% by 2030. “
LGIM singled out China Construction Bank and Russia’s Rosneft as two of the worst offenders, BBC notes. “China Construction Bank remains the world’s largest funder of coal mining and plants,” the equity fund stated. “While the company has increased its lending to green projects, it does not disclose the total emissions associated with its business.”
Rosneft, meanwhile, produced a 144-page sustainability report that failed to mention “climate change” even once. “This provides little reassurance that the company is planning for a world that must use less of its main product,” LGIM wrote.