Sweden’s AP7 announced it has been using shareholder proposals to put pressure on Australian fossil-fuel companies Woodside and Santos and Germany’s Volkswagen, demanding increased transparency around the companies’ climate lobbying.
The action regarding VW has been led by AP7 and the Church of England Pensions Board (CEPB) and takes the form of an amendment to the company’s articles of association tabled alongside Swedish national pensions buffer funds AP2, AP3, AP4, Denmark’s AkademikerPension and UK asset manager Schroders.
The amendment is intended to ensure that future sustainability reporting includes an assessment of the impact of the German carmaker’s lobbying and alignment with its climate goals, according to the CEPB.
”The shareholders’ escalation comes after more than three years of dialogue with VW which have not yielded any significant improvement in the company’s position,” the investor group said in a statement.
Meanwhile, AP7 – which operates the default option in Sweden’s premium pension system – said it had also submitted shareholder resolutions to Australian oil and gas companies Woodside and Santos.
“The expectations of the companies are, as with VW, increased transparency around their lobbying and to ensure that it is in line with the Paris Agreement,” the pension fund said.
AP7 said an analysis carried out by the database InfluenceMap showed that both companies continued to be committed to counteracting climate goals.
Charlotta Dawidowski Sydstrand, sustainability strategist at AP7, said: “Whether the lobbying is directly targeted at the political process or delivered through public influence activities, it’s vitally important for society’s interests as well as VW’s transition strategy that they ensure all of their advocacy is supporting Paris-aligned policy making, rather than putting road blocks and diversions in the way.”
Clare Richards, senior engagement manager at the CEPB, said: “It isn’t good enough for VW to keep delaying and dodging a reasonable request for greater transparency and accountability on the lobbying it enables.”
Richards called it disappointing that VW was left “trailing behind” its peer firms such as Bayer, E.ON and Mercedes-Benz, which she said had responded positively to investor requests for greater disclosure on climate lobbying.
Three weeks ago, major investor networks released a new standard for responsible climate lobbying after work initiated by AP7, the CEPB and BNPP AM, described as the first to represent broad consensus about defining responsible climate lobbying practice.