Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs Fight Off Activists’ Climate Change Resolutions

  • Date: 24/03/19
  • Corporate Councel

In-house lawyers at Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs have successfully fought off climate-related proxy resolutions sought by activist investors with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recently granting the banks’ motions to exclude the resolutions from shareholder consideration.

The in-house lawyers at San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. and New York City-based Goldman Sachs have successfully fought off climate-related proxy resolutions sought by activist investors.

The proposed resolutions asked the banks to work to reduce the full carbon footprint of their loan and investment portfolios in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement on global warming.

But the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recently granted the banks’ motions to exclude the resolutions from shareholder consideration. A number of other banks in the world have already committed to decrease the climate impact of their loans in accord with the Paris goals.

But since the U.S. does not accept the Paris agreement, most U.S. banks have committed to lowering their own operations’ footprints but not to reducing loans or investments in fossil fuel companies.

For example, Wells Fargo has promised $200 billion in financing through 2030 to businesses that support the transition to a low-carbon economy, including $100 billion toward clean technology and renewable energy projects. Goldman has committed to financing and investing in clean energy with an expanded target of $150 billion by 2025.

Attorney Danielle Fugere, president of the nonprofit group As You Sow, which promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility, said Tuesday she was disappointed in the SEC’s decision and in the banks. Investing in clean technology is not enough, she said.

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