(Bloomberg) — Legal & General Investment Management said it will support shareholder resolutions asking America’s biggest banks to phase out financial support for fossil fuels.The UK fund manager, which oversees $1.5 trillion of assets, said in a statement on its website that it intends to vote for proposals that request Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo & Co. adopt a “time-bound policy to phase out lending and underwriting for fossil fuel exploration and development.” The banks have guided shareholders not to endorse these resolutions.As major contributors to greenhouse-gas emissions via their financing activities, banks are under increasing pressure to steer capital away from the fossil-fuel industry and instead use their vast resources to help limit global warming. In the US, however, banks face criticism from both sides, as the Republican Party penalizes firms suspected of embracing environmental, social and good governance goals, such as reducing financed emissions.
“As investors advocating for a just and orderly energy transition, which satisfies all aspects of the current energy crisis (energy security, affordability and sustainability), we continue to emphasize that the boards of financial institutions need to closely consider their strategy and risk appetite towards fossil fuels into the near future,” LGIM said.
The asset manager, which is the investment arm of Legal & General Group Plc, said the resolutions in the US “tend to be advisory rather than binding, further alleviating concerns of micro-management.” LGIM said it won’t support a similar resolution at Royal Bank of Canada because the resolution text “also sought to restrict financing of broadly defined fossil fuel transportation.”
LGIM committed to endorse proposals at RBC, BofA, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan that request those banks publish 2030 science-based absolute emissions reduction targets for high-emitting sectors. In a separate report on Wednesday, Ceres and the Transition Pathways Initiative said targeting absolute emissions instead of the intensity of emissions in target-setting should be considered “best practice.”
The British asset manager will also support resolutions requesting that banks disclose how they intend to align their financing activities with their 2030 sectoral emissions targets. The Ceres-TPI report found none of the six largest US banks’ oil and gas financing goals for 2030 are aligned with a scenario that keeps global warming within the critical threshold of 1.5C.
Voting on these proposals will take place at the banks’ annual general meetings scheduled for later this month or next. LGIM said its statement on voting is intended to “draw the attention of the market, clients and other companies to a particular issue.”
LGIM is a top 30-shareholder in all six of the largest US banks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg based on fund disclosures.