Responsible investment NGO ShareAction is leading a campaign with a group of institutional investors targeting Credit Suisse for more action on climate change, and particularly to address its exposure to fossil fuel financing.
The group announced that it has filed a shareholder resolution at Credit Suisse asking the bank to clarify its fossil fuel financing strategy, and provide disclosures outlining its short-, medium-and long-term plans to reduce its exposure, along with disclosures on the company’s strategy to align with the Paris Agreement goal to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C.
The new initiative follows a successful campaign led by ShareAction last year at HSBC, urging more significant climate action by the bank, resulting in HSBC releasing a new policy to phase out financing of coal-fired power and thermal coal mining.
According to the new resolution, while Credit Suisse was among the first European banks to commit to align with the 1.5°C, it remains one of Europe’s largest fossil fuel financiers. The resolution cites external studies indicating that Credit Suisse provided over $82 billion to top fossil fuel companies between 2016 – 2020, making it Europe’s 4th largest financier of fossil fuels, and the third largest financier of the world’s top 30 coal power companies.
While Credit Suisse instituted fossil fuel financing policies in 2020, including commitments to not finance companies deriving more than 25% of revenue from thermal coal extraction or coal power, or to offshore and onshore oil & gas projects in the Arctic region, ShareAction noted that the policies lag behind many of the bank’s peers, do not extend to its asset management arm, and does not include restrictions for unconventional oil and gas.
In its statement announcing the resolution, ShareAction also stated that Credit Suisse’s “sustainability credentials have taken a particular hit,” following a series of high profile risk management missteps. The bank has recently announced a significant reorganization, which included the integration of its Sustainability, Research & Investment Solutions (SRI) organization into its other business divisions, and several senior sustainability executives have left the firm, including Chief Sustainability Officer Marisa Drew and SRI CEO Lydie Hudson.
In the resolution, the investors said:
“Investors encourage the bank to bring its coal, oil, and gas policies in line with leading practice in the sector, provide additional disclosures on its plans to reduce its exposure to fossil fuel assets on a timeline consistent with the 1.5C goal, and to set up a reporting framework to report on this plan on an annual basis. Investors urge the Company to support this proposal, which presents an opportunity for the bank to improve its Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria are a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments. More credentials and set itself apart as a climate leader.”
The investors filing the resolution include Actares, Amundi, Bernische Lehrerversichergungskasse, Bernische Pensionskasse, Cap Prévoyance, CIEPP – Caisse Inter-Entreprises de Prévoyance Professionnelle, Ethos Services SA, LGPS Central Limited, Pensionskasse des Bundes PUBLICA, Pensionskasse Post, and Pensionskasse Stadt Zürich.
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