ESG round-up: Nest, London CIV to vote against Shell chair at AGM

The latest developments in sustainable finance: Korean firms call for mandatory ESG disclosures to be delayed; BNP Paribas to halt financing of new oil and gas projects.

UK pension schemes Nest and London CIV have unveiled plans to vote against directors at Shell’s AGM. London CIV, a pension pool with around £48 billion ($60 billion; €55 billion) under management, will vote against Shell’s chair Andrew Mackenzie and directors. Nest, which manages around £29 billion, will vote against the chair’s re-election. They join the Church of England Pensions Board and Brunel Pensions Partnership, which announced this week that they would oppose directors at Shell. The Church Commissioners, which manages the Church of England’s £10 billion endowment fund, also plans to vote against all directors at ExxonMobil, Occidental Petroleum, Shell and Total. Currently, around £20 billion of UK pension money is invested in Shell, according to research from sustainable finance campaign group Make My Money Matter.

Korean companies have called on local financial regulators to delay the introduction of mandatory ESG disclosures. In 2021, Korean regulators announced that large-cap companies listed on the Korea Exchange (KRX) would be required to submit detailed ESG reports from 2025 onwards. In a meeting this week held by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the firms argued that if the mandatory disclosures are brought in too quickly, it will increase burdens and pressure on companies, which may result in a failure to meet the required disclosures, according to local media reports. The companies also called for the disclosure framework to be supported by more government policies and said they will require more ESG expertise. Initially, the rules will apply to firms valued at more than 2 trillion won ($1.5 billion, €1.4 billion). This will be expanded to all KRX-listed companies in 2030.

BNP Paribas has said it will no longer provide any financing dedicated to the development of new oil and gas fields. The update to the bank’s oil and gas policy is the second in three months, and builds on its commitment earlier this year to reduce financing for gas exploration and production by 30 percent by 2030. ShareAction wrote to five major European banks – Barclays, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale – on behalf of investors in February calling on them to halt direct financing of new oil and gas projects.

The New York State Common Retirement Fund has withdrawn shareholder resolutions from four major US companies after all four agreed to evaluate and set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as regularly report on progress towards meeting their goals. New York state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said the fund had reached agreements with HVAC company Carrier Global Corporation, pizza maker Papa John’s, aluminium producer Century Aluminum, and Spirit Reality, a real estate investment trust. The Kraft Heinz Company also agreed to establish deforestation-free sourcing policies in response to a shareholder proposal co-filed by the New York State fund with Green Century Capital Management.

Oxfam America has filed shareholder resolutions with ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhilips asking the US energy firms to regularly publish tax transparency reports in line with the Global Reporting Initiative standards. Public country-by-country reporting, a key component of the GRI tax standard, is already common in much of the extractive sector, with oil giants including Shell and BP disclosing voluntarily. ConocoPhillips’ shareholders are set to convene in Houston on 16 May, while ExxonMobil and Chevron will hold their AGMs virtually on 31 May.

Investors are only “minimally considering” the rights of Indigenous people when making investments, according to a survey of 77 of the world’s largest asset managers by ShareAction. In particular, the NGO found that only 10 managers – all based in Europe or North America – have investment commitments in place that incorporate the UN principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent, which gives Indigenous people and local communities a say on projects that affect them or their territories. The survey is the third in ShareAction’s four-part Point of No Returns series.

A growing number of public companies are making climate commitments, according to research from MSCI. However, while nearly half of global public companies have set a decarbonisation target, only 17 percent of those targets align with the 1.5C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement, according to MSCI’s net-zero tracker. The tool also showed that listed companies’ global emissions budget for limiting temperature rise to 1.5C will expire by October 2026.

The Responsible Investment Association Australasia has published a toolkit for investors on human rights in conflict-affected areas. Prepared by the network’s human rights working group, the document aims to help investors identify where portfolio companies may be operating in a conflict-affected context, as well as engage with companies.