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Civil society groups call for greater accountability from CA100+ investor coalition

$32trn investor initiative facing scrutiny from NGOs

The Climate Action 100+ investor initiative has to “live up to its full potential” according to a group of NGOs seeking greater transparency and accountability from the five-year initiative that is targeting 161 high emitting companies.

The initiative has responded by saying it is already delivering on its goals, although one prominent member, the Church of England, said the CA100+ board should “engage with the points that have been raised”.

Nine organisations including ShareAction, the Australasian Center for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), Greenpeace and ClientEarth have written to the heads of all 327 investors worth a combined $32trn in the initiative and their partner organisations seeking greater accountability and transparency.

Follow This, the Dutch group which withdrew a resolution this week at Shell after “intense discussions” with investors and which also has a resolution on the agenda at other fossil fuel firms, is also a signatory to the letter.

While welcoming CA100+’s successes – such as getting Glencore to commit to cap its coal production capacity and BP to publish a new business strategy aligned with the Paris goals – the letter asks its members to (selected):

· Focus their efforts on limiting the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C and require that target companies align their business models with this goal;
· Publish a list of the CA100+ leads for each company, and publish an annual report outlining priorities for the forthcoming year, progress made by each company, and details of the learning from past engagements with target companies, among other things;
· Support climate resolutions, including those filed by civil society organisations, and publish all votes cast at the AGMs of target companies;
· Widen the scope of the initiative to include banks

It notes many investors, “especially those in Australia, Africa, Asia and Latin America”, seem to be failing to engage meaningfully with the initiative, putting its success at risk.

Despite high-profile wins, the NGOs write that a “lack of transparency makes it difficult to judge the impact that CA100+ is having at other companies, such as Sasol, Total and Woodside”.While acknowledging that CA100+ is the “investor initiative on climate change many were waiting for”, Catherine Howarth, Chief Executive of ShareAction, said “success depends on action and real effort by all signatory investors, and so far, not all are stepping up”. It was “right that civil society demands accountability and determined action from CA100+ investors in every region of the world”.

Alice Garton, Head of Climate at ClientEarth, added: “We look forward to CA100+ investors exercising the full extent of their shareholders’ rights against recalcitrant companies – from voting against directors and audits, to divestment. We are in the midst of a climate emergency – investors must treat it as such.”

And another signatory, Brynn O’Brien, Executive Director at ACCR, said CA100+ must “avoid the trap of eurocentrism”.

In response, Stephanie Pfeifer, the CEO of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change and Vice Chair of the Steering Committee of CA100+, told RI: “We welcome today’s letter from civil society organisations. It is encouraging to see recognition and acknowledgement of all that Climate Action 100+ has achieved so far.

“The initiative and its investors are committed to results and already delivering on its goals. This is clear in positive action on climate change being taken by some of the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters as a direct result of collaborative investor engagement.

“We value the input and look forward to dialogue with these organisations, many of whom we already work with closely, on a shared commitment to greater action on climate change.”

A spokesperson for the Church of England said CA100+ is a “hugely important engagement that has to succeed if society is to achieve a below 2 degrees world” and that it “has the potential to be the defining contribution of investors to address the systemic challenge of climate to both society and our long term interests as a pension fund needing to pay future pension liabilities”.

It added: “We welcome the support of these organisations for the work of CA100+ and would encourage the CA100+ Board to engage with the points that have been raised.”

See RI’s commentary on this story here.