LAPFF members, Railpen, F&C, Royal London, AXA join CalPERS in backing ‘Aiming for A’ climate resolution at BP

Big names line up to support innovative AGM motion

Further leading pension funds and asset managers have come out in support of the innovative ‘Aiming for A’ shareholder resolution on climate resilience at BP – with more expected to declare their backing in the run-up to the oil giant’s annual meeting next month.
The motion was coordinated by charity fund manager CCLA and the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF). In addition to the original group of 50 co-filers, pension funds that have revealed their support for the ‘Strategic Resilience for 2035 and Beyond’ proposal now include California giant CalPERS, UK railways pension manager Railpen and the local authority funds of Avon, Cumbria, Greater Gwent (Torfaen), Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire.
Others declaring their support include the Bank of Montreal’s F&C Investments, Royal London Asset Management, the UK’s largest mutual life, pensions and investment company, and AXA Investment Managers, the €623bn fund manager.
The resolution and a similar one at Shell later in the year have been backed by both companies amid growing investor support.
CalPERS’ Portfolio Manager Bill McGrew, who is leading North American investor outreach ahead of the BP meeting as a member of the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), said: “CalPERS applauds BP and the board’s leadership and commitment to greater disclosure around climate change and the company’s environmental practices.” BP’s decision was “the example for companies to follow”. He will be one of the pension fund representatives attending the AGM in London on April 16.
Vicki Bakhshi, Head of Governance & Sustainable Investment at F&C, said oil and gas companies were facing a “fundamental challenge” in ensuring that their business models are resilient to an increasingly decarbonised economy. The declaration comes after F&C launched its latest responsible investment report, which signalled a new focus on climate change.
AXA IM’s Matt Christensen, Global Head of Responsible Investment, said the Aiming for A coalition aligns with its view that company management, directors and investors all have “critical yet unique” roles in sustaining the health of financial markets and ensuring the efficient allocation of capital.Voting declarations from other major European insurance companies are expected by the end of the month.
Helen Wildsmith, Head of Ethical & Responsible Investment at CCLA, who convened the investor coalition, said she was “delighted that asset owners and fund managers are joining the BP board in publicly declaring their support for our resolution”.
“As I noted in my recent Op Ed, the input I received from the company and some of its largest investors was invaluable in producing a resolution that is helping trigger co-leadership in this critical year for the climate.”
The filers have been assisted by environmental law group ClientEarth, and Barrister [lawyer] Elspeth Owens said the BP and Shell resolutions “continue to trigger unprecedented behaviour, which bodes well for the future of climate stewardship”. Catherine Howarth, CEO at campaign group ShareAction said the project was “energising” its network of pension fund beneficiaries and charity investors.
The latest update comes as BP has reportedly
become the latest major corporate to withdraw its support from US conservative political group ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Meanwhile, in the US, investors will get a chance to vote on carbon risk at New York-listed Anadarko Petroleum, according to the Texas based-giant’s newly released proxy materials.
A shareholder proposal filed by the Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds and the Park Foundation is calling for the company to report on its strategy to address the risk of “stranded assets presented by global climate change”. The shareholder proponents want the report to evaluate a range of low-carbon, low-demand scenarios, “including a scenario in which two thirds of reserves cannot be monetized” as well as assess returning capital to shareholders.
Anadarko’s board is resisting the proposal, saying it annually reports climate-related risks and opportunities to the CDP and that it believes the risks it faces from low carbon, low-demand scenarios is “minimal” and that a report would be “unnecessary and unproductive”. Anadarko holds its AGM on May 12.