A group of 30 investors has released an open letter through ShareAction to a number of banks to request they stop funding oil and gas fields by the end of the year.
The letters were sent to Barclays, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, and Societe Generale. ShareAction said that the investors represented over $1.5trn in assets under management. They include Candriam (also on these pages today), La Française Asset Management, and Brunel Pension Partnership.
ShareAction said that, ‘[…] these activities were holding back the renewable energy revolution in Europe, which they said was more important than ever as the continent battles with uncertain energy supplies in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’.
The letter was posted to the websites of the signees. The version sent to Barclays and signed by Catherine Howard, CEO of ShareAction, said: “Committing to exclude direct financing to new oil and gas fields would be a significant step towards Barclays implementing its net-zero ambition. However, asset financing for new oil and gas has been found to represent only 8% of total financing to top oil and gas expanders. We therefore encourage banks to swiftly turn their attention to the companies behind these new oil and gas fields. An increasing number of banks have started doing so.”
Letters to BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, and Societe Generale are also available on the ShareAction website. According to ShareAction, the amount of financing these European banks provided to oil and gas expanders between 2016-2021 is as follows:
- Barclays – $46bn
- BNP Paribas – $46bn
- Crédit Agricole – $34bn
- Societe Generale – $34bn
- Deutsche Bank – $28bn
This is not the only time ShareAction has featured on these pages in recent weeks. Back in January, it released its Voting Matters 2022 report, pointed to the number of resolutions supported by European firms as opposed to those based in the US and UK.
It wrote: “European asset managers, on average, backed 81% of proposals in 2022 compared to 69% in 2021. This is in stark contrast to the US and UK where managers on average only showed a one percentage point increase. The average for the US and the UK hides dispersion in voting performance over time, with some asset managers greatly improving their voting performance while others deteriorated.”
However, ShareAction also said that progress on environmental and social issues is still being hampered by the world’s largest asset managers.
Among the other findings in its Voting Matters 2022 report, ShareAction says that the four largest asset managers—Vanguard Group, Fidelity Investments, Blackrock, and State Street Global Advisors—backed a far-lower proportion of shareholders proposals last year than they did in 2021.
According to the organisation, Vanguard Group backed 10% of resolutions in 2022, down from 26% in the previous year; Fidelity backed 17%, down from 29%; BlackRock supported 24%, down from 40%; and State Street Global Advisors, 28% compared to 32%.
In addition, ShareAction says that nearly 50 resolutions would have received majority support if those four firms had thrown their weight behind them.