- Finding 11: Resolutions on climate change targets received the most support.
- Finding 12: Members of the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative perform no better than non-members, and fail to back over a third of climate-related resolutions
- Finding 13: Climate Action 100+ members outperform non-members, though progress appears to be stalling.
- Finding 14: Five Climate Action 100+ members repeatedly voted against CA100+ flagged shareholder resolutions.
- Finding 15: Asset managers show low levels of support for resolutions on climate-related financing.
- Finding 16: Some asset managers show strong support for biodiversity-related resolutions, particularly members of the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge.
Finding 11: Resolutions on climate change targets received the most support.
Resolutions requesting companies to set decarbonisation targets were most likely to get majority support (Figure 10). This was also the most common type of environmental resolution on our list. The more action-oriented resolutions requesting companies develop their climate change strategy, for example aligning their business with the goals of the Paris Agreement, received just 15% support on average and none received majority support. None of the resolutions on biodiversity, environmental impact assessments or water risk received majority support (Figure 10).
Figure 10 – Resolutions on climate change decarbonisation targets received the highest levels of support among environmental resolutions
Finding 12: Members of the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative perform little better than non-members, and fail to back over a third of climate-related resolutions.
Figure 11 – Members of the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative perform little better than non-members
The Net Zero Asset Manager initiative (NZAMI) was launched in December 2020 to provide a framework for asset managers’ net-zero commitments. It has quickly risen to become one of the most prominent climate signatory initiatives, representing over 291 asset managers with $66 trillion in assets[i]. One of the initiative’s commitments requires members to: “implement a stewardship and engagement strategy, with a clear escalation and voting policy, that is consistent with our ambition for all assets under management to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner”.
Despite these commitments, our analysis finds that NZAMI members do not vote in favour of environment resolutions much more often than non-members[ii]. Of the 68 managers in our assessment, 52 are members of the initiative. Members and non-members supported 66% and 61% of environment resolutions respectively (Figure 11), with considerable overlap in the spread of data between members and non-members.
While there are leaders in the initiative, there are also notable laggards. The median percentage of environment resolutions that NZAMI members supported was 68% which is higher than the average. This suggests that NZAMI members’ average support for climate resolutions is being pulled down by laggard asset managers that support very few climate resolutions.
Voting in favour of more than 90% of environmental resolutions are: Achmea Investment Management, Amundi Asset Management, BNP Paribas Asset Management, Candriam, Impax Asset Management Group, Man Group, Nordea Asset Management, Robeco.
In contrast, 14 asset managers backed under half of environmental resolutions. They are: AllianceBernstein, Baillie Gifford, BlackRock, Capital Group, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Liontrust Asset Management, Ninety One, Santander Asset Management, State Street Global Advisors, Swedbank Robur, T. Rowe Price, Vanguard, Veritas Asset Management.
Membership of the initiative does not ensure asset managers are using their voting rights to drive action on climate change.
Finding 13: Climate Action 100+ members outperform non-members, though progress appears to be stalling.
CA100+ is the world’s largest investor initiative on climate change. It aims to use investor influence to ensure that the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take action on climate change. Of the 68 managers in our assessment, 48 are CA100+ members.
Members of CA100+ outperform non-members when voting on climate resolutions, with members and non-members voting in favour of 68% and 49% of resolutions respectively.
However, in 2022 members of CA100+ backed a smaller proportion of climate proposals than they did in 2021. CA100+ members voted in favour of 68% of climate resolutions, down from 72% in 2021 (Figure 12). As in Finding 12, the average proportion of climate resolutions that CA100+ members supported was pulled down by laggard asset managers that supported very few resolutions.
Figure 12 - Climate Action 100+ members backed fewer climate resolutions in 2022 than 2021
Several CA100+ members are using their voting rights to push for climate action, with 11 asset managers voting in favour of over 90% of assessed climate resolutions: Achmea Investment Management, Amundi Asset Management, APG Asset Management, BNP Paribas Asset Management, Candriam, Impax Asset Management, Man Group, MN, Nordea Asset Management, PGGM Investments, and Robeco.
However, the downward trend reflects the fact that some asset managers in the initiative have backed fewer climate-related proposals in 2022 than in 2021: BlackRock, EFG Asset Management, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Ninety One and State Street Global Advisors. These asset managers all backed less than half of climate-related shareholder proposals.
Finding 14: Four Climate Action 100+ members repeatedly voted against CA100+ flagged shareholder resolutions
Figure 13 – Four CA100+ members repeatedly voted against the seven CA100+ flagged resolutions at energy companies
The CA100+ initiative flags resolutions for members to consider supporting at the upcoming proxy season. It flagged 11 shareholder resolutions in 2022. On average, the CA100+ flagged resolutions received relatively high support at 50% (compared to 31% for all environmental resolutions). Three received majority support: at Exxon Mobil, Boeing and Chevron.
Seven CA100+ flagged resolutions on decarbonisation issues at energy companies did not receive majority support. Four CA100+ members, including three of the five largest asset managers in the world, voted against the majority of these resolutions (Figure 13)[iii].
Common justifications given for voting against these resolutions include that they are not in shareholders’ best interests or that the company already provides sufficient disclosure. However, all seven resolutions were on climate-related issues that pose material transition risks to energy company and therefore to the managers’ clients. None of the asset managers mentioned that these resolutions had been flagged by the CA100+ initiative.
If CA100+ does not ask tougher questions of its members to remain signatories, the initiative risks enabling laggard managers to greenwash their performance.
Finding 15: Asset managers show low levels of support for resolutions on climate-related financing.
There were 12 resolutions on climate-related financing in our analysis. These were filed at financial institutions (banks, investment banks and insurers) and requested the company to stop financing fossil fuel projects or align financing activities with the International Energy Agency Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.
Resolutions on climate financing on average received the second lowest levels of support (12%) among the types of environmental resolutions assessed, with none of the resolutions receiving majority support (Figure 10). All 12 resolutions received consistently low overall levels of support, ranging from 7% to 19%.
Nineteen asset managers failed to back all 12 of the resolutions assessed[iv].
Case study: Credit Suisse
Ask: Annually disclose climate-related financing and steps to bring financing in line with Paris-aligned targets
Resolution number: 9
AGM date: 29 April 2022
Result: 19.3% For / 80.7% Against
In 2022, ShareAction coordinated the filing of the first shareholder resolution on an environmental and social topic to be voted on at a Swiss company AGM. We did this because Credit Suisse’s financing activities were incompatible with limiting global warming to 1.5C.
At the time of filing the resolution, Credit Suisse only had one sectoral target for the oil & gas and coal sectors. There were no targets for capital markets activities, meaning that financing for expanding oil & gas companies was not covered by any climate target.
Credit Suisse responded to the filing of the resolution by updating their unconventional oil & gas policies to exclude more companies. But big gaps remained in the company’s climate transition plan. 19% of investors supported the resolution, realising that a weak climate plan was a material risk to their investment.
From the rationales given by the 21 asset managers that opposed or abstained from this vote we can see why investors, more generally, might oppose resolutions on climate financing. The most common justification for voting against the resolution was that Credit Suisse already sufficiently fulfils the asks of the filers. Asset managers stated that Credit Suisse already discloses its climate approach and targets in its Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) report and that it is already a member of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance.
These rationales are not consistent with the fact that Credit Suisse’s existing disclosure was inadequate. Credit Suisse was not following TCFD guidance; its climate targets were disclosed in its sustainability report rather than in the management report. The bank’s reporting also selectively reported ESG risks. Credit Suisse published that its financed emissions for coal, oil & gas companies had fallen 41% between 2020 and 2021, however, this omits the fact that financing to upstream oil and gas expanders had increased.
We encourage asset managers that opposed this resolution to carefully evaluate Credit Suisse’s climate risk management plan before its first advisory vote on its sustainability report next year.
Finding 16: Some asset managers show strong support for biodiversity-related resolutions, particularly members of the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge.
Biodiversity is still a relatively new topic both for investors voting on resolutions and for companies where resolutions have been filed. In our 2022 assessment, two resolutions were directly related to biodiversity loss, one on pesticide use and one on supplier impacts on biodiversity (Figure 10). Ten additional resolutions were closely linked to biodiversity loss:
- eight on plastic use;
- one on deforestation; and
- one on sustainable materials.
All 12 resolutions received relatively high levels of support, with average overall support of 45%.
Figure 14 – Finance for Biodiversity Pledge signatories on average voted in favour of more of the 12 biodiversity-related resolutions than non-signatories
The Finance for Biodiversity Pledge is a commitment by financial institutions to protect and restore biodiversity through their financing activities and investments. However, there are no mandatory requirements for signatories. On average, signatories voted in favour of 86% of the biodiversity resolutions in our analysis, whereas non-members voted in favour or 76% (Figure 14).
Notably, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, voted against five of the twelve resolutions, despite being a signatory to the Finance for Biodiversity Pledge.
[i] As of 9 November 2022.
[ii] See Sunrise’s analysis of the voting patterns of the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance for similar findings regarding asset owners.
[iii] See Ansvarlig Fremtid’s report for a similar finding when looking at Danish pension funds.
[iv] abrdn, AllianceBernstein, BlackRock, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Fidelity Investments, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Invesco, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Liontrust Asset Management, MFS Investment Management, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Newton Investment Management, Ninety One, Nuveen Asset Management, Santander Asset Management, Royal London Asset Management, T. Rowe Price, and Vanguard.
 Net Zero Asset Managers initiative (2022) Commitment – The Net Zero Asset Managers initiative. https://www.netzeroassetmanage....
 Climate Action 100+ (2022) Climate Action 100+. https://www.climateaction100.o....
 iii Climate Action 100+ (2022) Climate Action 100+ Flagged Shareholder Votes. https://www.climateaction100.o....
 IEA (2021) Net Zero by 2050. https://www.iea.org/reports/ne....
 ShareAction (2022) Almost a quarter of Credit Suisse’s shareholders call for further climate action in vote against management. https://shareaction.org/news/a....
 ShareAction (2022) Credit Suisse: why investors should support the shareholder proposal…. https://shareaction.org/report....
 Credit Suisse, TCFD Report 2021, 2021.
 ShareAction (2022) Credit Suisse: why investors should support the shareholder proposal…. https://shareaction.org/report....
 Finance for Biodiversity (2022) Finance for Biodiversity Pledge.
All links accessed November 2022.