European asset managers care more about climate change: study

Publish: 6:18 PM, November 4, 2019 | Update: 6:18:PM, November 4, 2019

LONDON, – European asset managers are more likely to seek to hold companies to account over global warming than their US counterparts, British-based pressure group ShareAction revealed Monday.

ShareAction, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that campaigns for responsible and sustainable finance, examined votes cast by investors in 57
of the world’s biggest asset management companies on proposals related to climate change.

The group studied various proposals including climate reporting and governance, corporate lobbying and emissions reduction targets.

“Analysis … reveals that the largest US asset managers are reluctant to challenge company management on climate issues with their voting decisions,”
it concluded. “Conversely, the most active and responsible stewards are based in the UK and Europe.”

All of the top ten investment groups who were the most likely to vote down climate change resolutions were based in the US. The ten included BlackRock, JPMorgan Asset Management, Vanguard, and Fidelity Management & Research Co.

The NGO described this as “highly concerning” because the 20 largest US players control some 35 percent of global assets under management.

It added that six of the ten worst global performers in its study had previously publicly backed action on climate change.

“You can’t boast climate-awareness in public and block climate goals in private,” said ShareAction senior campaigns officer Jeanne Martin, who was
author of the report. “Ultimately, these investors will be judged on their voting, which is the most powerful tool at their disposal.

“They have the power to put the brakes on the climate emergency, but they are on auto-pilot, driving us head-on into it. “We hope their clients take note of these findings which separate out those who are really walking the walk on climate change.”

ShareAction added that the five best performers in the study were all in Europe. Switzerland’s UBS Asset Management topped the leaderboard, followed by Germany’s Allianz Global Investors, British pair Aviva Investors and HSBC Asset Management, and AXA Investment Managers of France.