CalPERS to back climate change resolution at Australia’s ANZ amid split vote

California giant one of few major investors to support innovative proposal

CalPERS, the California Public Employees Retirement System, has come out in support of a shareholder proposal on climate change at the Australia & New Zealand Banking Group’s annual meeting tomorrow (December 17).

Also declaring support is Vision Super, though pre-AGM voting disclosures reveal that a range of international investors aren’t backing the proposal, which was filed by advocacy groups the Australian Council on Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) and the Asset Owners Disclosure Project.

The proposal calls on ANZ to assess and reduce the carbon intensity of its lending and investments and is the first target of the new Vote Your Pension (VYP) campaign. ANZ is resisting the vote and RI understands that influential proxy voting advisors ISS and Glass Lewis have recommended voting against the proposals.

CalPERS is also backing a preliminary proposal from the NGOs that aims to facilitate nonbinding proposals, according to voting data on the pension fund giant’s website. Its fellow California fund CalSTRS, according to its site, is voting against the proposal on climate change but is supporting the earlier proposal on facilitating voting.
In response to the Vote Your Pension Campaign, the A$7.5bn (€4.9bn) Melbourne-based Vision Super hasalso confirmed it is voting for the climate change resolution.

“Vision Super has decided to vote this way because we recognise our responsibilities are long term in nature, and that the long term prosperity of the economy and the wellbeing of members depend on a healthy environment, social cohesion and good governance within the Fund’s operations and the companies in which it invests.” It added it introduced new low carbon benchmarks in October.

“Moving our international shares portfolio to the global MSCI Low Carbon Index means we now invest in overseas companies that have a 70% lower carbon exposure than the rest of the market.”

Other international investors, though, aren’t supportive of the resolution, again according to advance voting records. They include names such as the Florida State Board of Administration and Canadian giants the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the British Columbia Investment Management Corp. The latter said it wasn’t supportive of the motion as it is “unduly restrictive and duplicative”.

“The bank already discloses information on its own GHG emissions and its exposure to high emission sectors, and responds to the CDP questionnaire,” the Victoria, BC-based investor said.