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Investors hit back as Bank of America resists climate change disclosure proposal

Say company has responsibility to report on “material risks”

A group of US investors have hit back at Bank of America’s opposition to their shareholder proposal seeking more disclosure about its exposure to climate change risks.

Shareholders in the bank are due to vote on the proposal, filed by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary and others, at its annual meeting on May 7 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The bank is advising investors to vote against the motion, arguing that it already provides information on the emissions attributed to one of its most carbon-intensive portfolios and its policies to address related risks and opportunities. The investors argue these disclosures don’t go far enough.

“This existing disclosure does not provide shareholders with a transparent, detailed, and comprehensive assessment of the bank’s exposure to financial and reputational risks from relationships across all carbon-intensive industries,” they say in an official rebuttal filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“This is of particular concern for investors because the fiduciary reporting responsibilities of company management and the board of directors involves the public and transparent identification and management of material risks.”

The latest development follows a letter sent to the bank by a group of investors under the banner of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) last month in which they asked it to reconsider its opposition to the resolution.The proposal calls for the bank to report an assessment of its greenhouse gas emissions resulting from its financing portfolio and its exposure to climate change risk in its lending, investing, and financing activities.

In the new filing, the investors argue that the financial sector is exposed to significant risks from climate change as banks contribute to climate change through their financed emissions, which, they say, typically dwarf their other climate impacts.

So, to safeguard shareholder value, they argue banks must take a strategic approach to measuring and managing their exposure to climate risk.

Two investors who have already registered support for the motion include the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS). Questions on the proposal should be directed to Calvert’s Gabriel Thoumi.

Filing investors:
Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary
Calvert Investment Management
Congregation of Divine Providence
Providence Trust
Friends Fiduciary
Congregation of St. Joseph.