JPMorgan Chase is fighting four shareholder petitions related to climate change in the Securities and Exchange Commission, despite a new policy by the US agency to take a tougher stance against attempts to block investors’ votes.
The largest lender to the fossil fuel business, JPMorgan is facing growing pressure from investors on the risk of climate change in recent years.
Tulipshare, a London-based investment platform, is the latest to criticize the US bank for asking the SEC to reject a proposal by start-up fintech company to stop investing, borrowing and lending to the fossil fuel business.
JPMorgan was trying to “silence investors on climate change,” Tulipshare said.
Two other petitions from shareholders ask JPMorgan for new climate revelations: one requires climate lobbying information from the Boston Trust, and the other seeks details of its carbon reduction targets from the environmental group, the Sierra Club Foundation.
A third proposal submitted by the Sisters of Mercy of America calls on JPMorgan to adopt a policy this year to ensure that its funding does not contribute to new fossil fuel supplies that are incompatible with the net zero greenhouse gas scenario set by the International Energy Agency.
The bank objected to the requests on the basis of proposals related to “ordinary business” operations.
SEC rules allow companies to block certain offers from shareholders, such as those they believe could drive micromanagement of business decisions. Companies routinely ask the agency for permission to block proposals.
But last year, the SEC said it would be harder to stop climate shareholders’ proposals in 2022. The change in the regulator has given impetus to those campaigning for companies to address fears of climate change risk.
A record 12 environmental proposals filed with US companies won a majority of shareholder support in the 2021 polls, according to Sullivan & Cromwell.
ExxonMobil has succumbed to investor pressure and added three new board members after activist hedge fund Engine No. 1 questioned the oil company’s climate risks.
Former ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond was also a longtime member of JPMorgan’s board until he retired in late 2020 after continued pressure from shareholders. At the bank’s annual meeting in the same year, just under 50% of investors voted to require JPMorgan to draw up a climate plan in line with the Paris Agreement to Limit Global Warming.
SEC decisions on JPMorgan’s shareholders’ proposals are expected in the coming weeks. The New York-based bank has not yet announced a date for its annual meeting in 2022.
Where climate change meets business, markets and politics. Check out the coverage of FT here.
Are you curious about FT’s commitment to environmental sustainability? Learn more about our science-based goals here