Barclays has developed a new climate policy that will be put to the vote at the bank’s upcoming annual general meeting (AGM) alongside a pension fund-backed shareholder resolution on the same issue.
The bank today announced it had set an “ambition” to become a “net zero” bank by 2050 and a “commitment” to align all of its financing activities with the goals and timeline of the Paris climate agreement.
It said that in developing its approach, it had engaged extensively with its shareholders, “as well as with stakeholders from across society more broadly”.
The bank’s announcement comes after a group of shareholders including large UK pension funds filed a shareholder resolution calling on Barclays to set out a plan to phase out financing of fossil fuel companies and certain utility companies.
Campaign group ShareAction, which is co-ordinating the shareholder resolution, today said Barclays had made “a milestone announcement reflecting the positive pressure of shareholders and other stakeholders, and the bank’s willingness to listen”.
It is recommending shareholders vote for both resolutions, although describing the shareholder resolution it is involved in as more detailed and targeted in nature, “calling for phase-out of financing activities to the most carbon-intensive energy companies”.
Barclays said many of the co-filers of the shareholder resolution recommended support for its resolution.
Wolfgang Kuhn, director of finance sector strategies at ShareAction, said: “Voting for both these resolutions will cement the bank’s new high-level climate commitment while at the same time insisting on the near-term ambition needed to deliver the results everyone wants.
“A climate strategy cannot be considered complete without recognising that transition necessarily means phase-out when it comes to fossil fuels, particularly the highest carbon fuels where Barclays has significant exposure.”
The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) today said it had met with both the chair of Barclays and with ShareAction following the December filing of the shareholder resolution, and that it supported the bank’s commitment to align financing activities with the Paris agreement.
Councillor Doug McMurdo, chair of LAPFF, said: “I have recently met and discussed the resolution and progress the company has made with Nigel Higgins, the company chair, as well as having some informal meetings with other co-filing investors.
“We are pleased to see the outcome and LAPFF has undertaken to continue to work with the company and other investors to ensure a robust plan is executed and delivered.”