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Narrow defeat for shareholder climate resolution at JPMorgan

Rearview shot of a group of businesspeople raising their hands to ask questions during a conference

Nearly half (49.6%) of JPMorgan Chase & Co’s shareholders have supported a preliminary vote that called on the bank to further disclose its fossil fuel lending activities, just missing a majority threshold, according to Bloomberg.

US non-profit organisation As You Sow said that the shareholder’s significant support of this proposal underscores their position that banks are as responsible as any other company to take early action to reduce systemic and growing climate risks.

The news comes as the bank decided to keep Lee Raymond, a former chief executive of ExxonMobil, on its board of directors.

Proxy adviser Glass Lewis said, ahead of the bank’s annual general meeting on Tuesday, that it repeatedly allowed 81-year old Raymond to breach its mandatory retirement, the FT reported.

Demand of the proposal 

The proposal, filed by As You Sow, states: “While JPMorgan has increased its ‘clean’ financing, recognises climate change, and is sourcing renewable energy for its operations, its annual $22bn (€20bn) in clean financing over nine years is substantially outweighed by its fossil fuel funding activities.

“JPMorgan does not yet measure or disclose its full carbon footprint, nor has it adopted targets to reduce its lending-related greenhouse gas emissions.”

In contrast to JPMorgan, its peers are beginning to address their polluting emissions.

Most recently, after NGO ShareAction co-ordinated a shareholder resolution, the largest bank financing fossil fuels in Europe, Barclays, stated an intention to align its investments with the Paris Climate Agreement and set a net zero emissions target.

JPMorgan is the largest global bank financing fossil fuels. It funnelled $268.6bn between 2016 and 2019 into companies profiting from climate change, according to a 2020 report by NGOs titled Banking on Climate Change.

The bank replied to the proposal by saying that it had announced in February it would contribute $200bn to advance the objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Danielle Fugere, president and chief counsel of As You Sow, commented: “Shareholders today sent the message that it is past time for Chase to catch up with its peers, implement a strategy to decarbonise and de-risk its lending portfolio, and help build a more secure future for all.

“JPMorgan’s inaction in the face of the staggering risks of climate change is noteworthy and unacceptable. Investors can no longer tolerate business as usual in these unprecedented times.”

Elena Johansson

Senior Reporter

Part of the Bonhill Group.