On Friday, investors in the world’s largest coal trader, Glencore, indicated clearly their dissatisfaction with the company’s climate record, by voting in large numbers for a shareholder resolution filed by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) and ShareAction.
The resolution – which received 29.2% support – called for greater transparency on how Glencore’s thermal coal production plans compare to pathways for limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C.
This substantial support emerged in spite of strong opposition from Glencore, who advised shareholders to vote against the resolution. However, major proxy advisers – Glass Lewis and ISS - which many large shareholders consult, recommended shareholders vote in favour.
The resolution was voted on at the AGM after being supported by a global coalition of institutional investors managing assets worth $2.2 trillion, and 69 UK-based individual shareholders coordinated by ShareAction.
With support for the resolution surpassing 20%, according to UK corporate rules, Glencore is now obliged to engage with shareholders to understand the concerns leading to the vote.
One of the individual co-filers of the resolution, Richard Murphy, attended the AGM in Switzerland (watch his video diary here). Richard asked a question to the board on behalf of First Nations representatives from Australia who are on the frontlines of the environmental, social and cultural damages caused by Glencore.
This joined a chorus of other shareholders representing workers and indigenous communities who described how Glencore’s operations were harming communities, worker rights and the environment.
Speaking on his experience at the AGM, Richard said “it really illustrated just how important it is for us to get in there and challenge the board, [with] these sorts of opportunities... We didn’t win this time, but it was a major rebellion and 29.2% of shareholders voted for the motion”.
Our resolution didn’t pass this time. But we'll keep pushing Glencore to meaningfully engage with shareholders and affected communities – until they take real action to tackle its impacts on people and planet.
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