Activist investor wants BHP to withdraw from lobby groups inconsistent with Paris Agreement

Adam Matthews, director, ethics and engagement, Church of England Pension Board

PROMINENT investor activist, the Church of England Pensions’ Board, has asked shareholder advisors to support a resolution to be tabled at BHP’s annual general meeting (AGM) next week that the Australian miner withdraw from lobby groups inconsistent with global climate change limitation goals, said Reuters.

The resolution recommends “… memberships of industry associations be suspended where their advocacy demonstrates overall inconsistency with the Paris Agreement’s goals”. According to Adam Matthews, head of the pension board’s ethics and engagement: “Corporate funding of lobbying, fuelled with shareholder funds, is continuing at pace”.

The pensions board said proxy voting advisory firms ISS and Glass Lewis, who act for institutional investors, had not recommended its clients support the resolution and called for a meeting with them and the investors to discuss the issue.

“The decision by the proxy voting advisors ISS and Glass Lewis not to recommend support for the co-filed shareholder resolution raises serious questions about how investors can receive advice that enables them to meet their fiduciary duties to navigate the financial risks posed by climate change,” the Church of England Pensions’ Board said.

Aaron Bertinetti, Glass Lewis’ senior vice president: research and engagement, told Reuters that investors focusing only on an adviser’s approach to a proposal rather than “the extensive analysis, reasoning, expertise and engagement such advisers conduct” would raise concerns about their own fiduciary duties to those they represent.

Last month BHP said its board would recommend shareholders oppose the resolution at its annual general meetings in London on October 17 and in Sydney on November 7.

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