“Impossible for Glencore to ignore”: Coal-mining giant hit with large shareholder vote on thermal coal risk at AGM
A shareholder resolution asking Glencore plc to explain how its thermal coal production aligns with its climate goals has received significant support at the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), prompting institutional investors behind the resolution to call on the company to heed the clear message and come clean on the risks of its thermal coal business.
29.22% of shareholders voted in support of the resolution, which is the second highest vote ever recorded in favour of a climate-related shareholder resolution not supported by management on the London Stock Exchange.*
Because the vote was over 20%, under the terms of the UK Corporate Governance Code Glencore is now required to formally consult with shareholders about the reasons for the result.
The resolution was co-filed by a global coalition of institutional investors collectively representing $US2.2 trillion of assets under management, including: Legal and General Investment Management (LGIM), one of Europe’s largest asset managers; Swiss based Ethos Foundation, on behalf of large Swiss pension fund members of the foundation, including Pensionskasse Post and Bernische Pensionskasse (BPK); Vision Super, an Australian industry super fund; and HSBC Asset Management. The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) and UK-based responsible investment NGO ShareAction were also co-filers.
Prior to the AGM, it received unprecedented support from an additional group of institutional investors representing well over half a trillion dollars (approx US$596 billion) in assets under management, as well as support from major proxy advisors Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS).
Despite this, Glencore’s board recommended voting against the resolution.
The resolution asked Glencore - the world’s biggest coal trader and Australia’s largest coal miner - to disclose how its projected thermal coal production and capex plans align with the Paris objective of keeping global temperature increase to 1.5°C.
The result is a clear indication that institutional capital is increasingly alert to the risks of thermal coal and investors expect disclosures that enable them to navigate energy transition risks.
Dror Elkayam, Global ESG Analyst – Investment Stewardship, Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) said:
“We are encouraged by the strong and robust support of our proposal.
This is a clear signal by shareholders that further disclosure around the company’s thermal coal business is imperative. We look forward to building on the progress the company has already made on some key elements of disclosure over the next few months.”
Vincent Kaufmann, CEO of Ethos Foundation said:
“With today’s vote at Glencore’s AGM shareholders have made it abundantly clear that its thermal coal business is exposed to significant risk in the energy transition and that the company must be upfront about the level of exposure.”
Simon Rawson, Director of Corporate Engagement & Deputy CEO at ShareAction said:
“The scale of investor support for this resolution reflects the level of frustration at Glencore’s inactivity over a number of years to set out a credible plan for their coal business that meets the ambitions of the Paris Agreement to urgently address global warming.
Instead of ignoring the realities of the damage coal is doing to our planet and its people, Glencore needs to meaningfully engage with their investor and civil society stakeholders who have driven this resolution and deliver a robust plan showing how they will transition from a dirty past to a clean future.”
Naomi Hogan, Strategic Projects Lead at ACCR said:
“A vote of this size is impossible for Glencore to ignore. Momentum has been built across Glencore investors who are calling for clearer thermal coal disclosure. Investors will continue to demand information in the lead up to the next Glencore Climate Plan.
“Glencore must recognise that neither the risks of its thermal coal business nor the concerns of investors are going away.
“Glencore now needs to engage in meaningful dialogue with shareholders and provide transparency around its thermal coal plans.”
Shareholder Resolution to Glencore PLC on thermal coal production
* In 2021, 30.5% shareholders voted for a climate-related shareholder proposal filed with Shell, which is the highest vote recorded in favour of a climate-related shareholder resolution not supported by management on the London Stock Exchange.
Additional 2023 AGM results:
- Glencore also received a vote of 30.25% against its 2022 Climate Report, building on the vote against the plan from last year’s AGM.
- The chair received an 11% vote against.
Background on co-filers
The global coalition of institutional investors is joined in the co-filing of this resolution by 68 individual shareholders. Under Article 53.3 of Glencore’s Articles of Association (AA), members have a right to require the company to circulate a resolution for an Annual General Meeting.
Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM)
LGIM is one of Europe’s largest asset managers and a major global investor, with total assets under management of US$1.57 trillion. It works with a wide range of global clients, including pension schemes, sovereign wealth funds, fund distributors and retail investors. For more than 50 years, it has built a business through understanding what matters most to its clients and transforming this insight into valuable, accessible investment products and solutions. It provides investment expertise across the full spectrum of asset classes including fixed income, equities, commercial property, and cash. Its capabilities range from index-tracking and active strategies to liquidity management and liability-based risk management solutions.
The Ethos Foundation
The Ethos Foundation was created in 1997 with the goal to enable Swiss pension funds to invest responsibly, taking into account environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. Its 245 current members, which must be Swiss pension institutions or charitable foundations, together represent approximately US$393.6 billion under management or a quarter of second pillar wealth in Switzerland. In 2000, the Ethos Services company was created to help the Ethos Foundation achieve its goals. Over the years, it has developed and expanded its range of services dedicated to SRI and currently offers four lines of products and services – investment funds and stock indices, exercise of voting rights, shareholder dialogue programs and sustainability analysis of listed companies – as well as training in sustainable finance.
HSBC Asset Management
HSBC Asset Management, the investment management business of the HSBC Group, invests on behalf of HSBC’s worldwide customer base of retail and private clients, intermediaries, corporates and institutions through both segregated accounts and pooled funds. HSBC Asset Management connects HSBC’s clients with investment opportunities around the world through an international network of offices in 25 countries and territories, delivering global capabilities with local market insight. As at 30 September 2022, HSBC Asset Management managed assets totalling US$571 billion on behalf of its clients. For more information, see www.assetmanagement.hsbc.com/uk. HSBC Asset Management is the brand name for the asset management business of HSBC Group, which includes the investment activities provided through our local regulated entity, HSBC Global Asset Management (UK) Limited.
Vision Super is a strong performing industry super fund that was established in 1947. It has US$8.2 billion in assets it manages on behalf of around 84,000 member accounts. Vision Super is a long-term investor and aims to improve the long-term sustainable value of the companies it invests in. It looks to the Boards and Executive management of those companies to serve in the best interests of long-term shareholders and other stakeholders. It integrates ESG issues and risks as part of its investment governance framework and incorporates dialogue with its fund managers and the companies it invests in more broadly. It focuses on delivering low fees, strong risk-adjusted returns with appropriate consideration of environmental, social and governance factors (ESG). Its investment strategy aims to provide members with favourable long-term returns.
For more than 15 years, ShareAction, the responsible investment NGO, has been working to shape a world where the financial system serves our planet and its people. Through research, campaigns and advocacy we mobilise global investors to drive up labour standards, tackle climate change, protect the natural world, and improve people’s health. We push policymakers to ensure the financial system is working in the best interests of people and the planet. Visit shareaction.org or follow us @ShareAction to find out more.