• Nearly 12% of shareholders vote for Market Forces / Friends Provident Foundation resolution
  • Resolution called on bank to match ‘net zero by 2050’ rhetoric with action and end the bank’s misaligned financing of fossil fuels
  • Bank’s own climate resolution faced a significant rebellion with 17% voting against, showing disquiet with bank climate strategy
  • ‘Serious questions to answer’ for institutional investors who preach climate action but voted against Market Forces / Friends Provident resolution 

11.7% of Standard Chartered shareholders defied Standard Chartered management’s voting recommendation on climate change, voting for the Market Forces shareholder resolution committing the bank to align its financing with its commitment of net zero emissions by 2050.

The shareholder resolution coordinated by Market Forces and Friends Provident Foundation noted that Standard Chartered has committed to net zero by 2050 but that its current policies and financing are in breach of this goal. The resolution noted that the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s groundbreaking ‘Net Zero by 2050’ report said that a ‘net zero’ pathway means there can be no new investment in new coal mines, coal plants, or oil and gas fields, as of last year.

Market Forces research demonstrates that the bank’s current climate plans only apply to around half of the bank’s 2020 fossil fuel financing. Market Forces analysis also demonstrates in detail how Standard Chartered’s net zero rhetoric is not matched by the bank’s actions.

In recent years, the bank has: 

In addition, last week Market Forces released new research showing that from January – December 2021 a handful of Standard Chartered-funded expansionary fossil fuel projects will emit 2.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide over their lifetimes – five times the annual emissions of the entire United Kingdom.

In a huge lobbying effort, the Standard Chartered board recommended shareholders vote against the Market Forces resolution, instead urging votes in favour of a weak climate plan proposed by management, that leaves the bank’s own ‘net zero by 2050’ goal impossible to achieve, and will allow huge funding for fossil fuels to continue.

The bank’s climate plan also faced a significant rebellion, with nearly 17% (16.98%) of shareholders rejecting it, revealing significant shareholder discontent with the bank’s climate strategy. The management resolution will allow the bank to continue its pattern of heavy fossil fuel financing. 

Adam McGibbon, UK Campaign Lead at Market Forces, said:

Standard Chartered’s institutional investors have some serious questions to answer about their commitment to climate action. The bank’s climate policies have failed to prevent financing for some of the world’s biggest polluters, and shareholders are allowing themselves to be misled by the bank’s claims to ‘align’ with the IEA’s Net Zero by 2050 scenario.

Today’s vote reveals significant concern about the bank’s climate plans – and management ignores this at its peril.

Colin Baines, Investment Engagement Manager at Friends Provident Foundation, said:

“We hope the first ever climate change or ESG resolution at Standard Chartered, and the significant shareholder rebellion that resulted, will be a wakeup call to the Board that they need to do more and faster to align the business with achieving net zero by 2050.

Whilst a strong shareholder signal has been sent, it is disappointing to see so many that claim to support the Paris climate agreement or net zero use the most powerful tool at their disposal to vote against their stated climate goals. It is up to asset owners and wider society to make very clear that they will not tolerate this blatant greenwashing from asset managers.”

Notes for editors:

  • Market Forces campaigns for financial institutions that have custody of our money to protect not damage our environment. www.marketforces.org.uk