Bank considering introducing stronger limits on its fossil fuel investments as it faces growing pressure from shareholders
Barclays is gearing up to introduce stricter climate change policies that would further limit its investments in fossil fuels, following growing pressure from the bank's shareholders, according to reports.
The bank is facing increasing calls to strengthen its green investment rules, after a report last year by NGO ShareAction found it had invested more than $85bn in coal, gas, and oil projects - more than any other European bank and the sixth largest amount globally of any bank.
As a result ShareAction filed a shareholder resolution last month urging Barclays to bring its energy financing in line with the Paris Agreement goals to limit global warming to 1.5C or 'well below' 2C by the end of the century, in what it claims is the first ever climate-related resolution lodged at a European bank.
It is also calling on Barclays to "consider the social dimension of the transition to a resilient low carbon economy", by aligning its investments with the need to provide a Just Transition for workers and firms involved in fossil fuel industries.
The resolution has reportedly won backing from other groups holding shares in Barclays, including the Church Commissioners, which looks after the Church of England's money and just last month pledged to fully decarbonise its investment portfolio to net zero by 2050.
The Investor Forum, which represents investors holding more than £18.5tr of assets under management, is also upping its pressure on Barclays to limit its fossil fuel funding, and the bank is now poised to respond to the growing shareholder pressure with enhanced climate policies at its AGM in May, according to The Telegraph.
On Saturday the newspaper cited sources briefed on Barclay's plans who said "authentic" changes to its climate polices could result in the bank having to turn away potentially lucrative investments, but warned such policies faced challenges as these investments could then be taken up by investors with less comprehensive engagement practices.
In a statement, Barclays failed to deny the reports, confirming only that "we continue to engage with ShareAction and other shareholders on this issue, and we will make a further statement at the appropriate time".
Major investors are under increasing pressure to align their portfolios with lower carbon investments in order to combat risks to their business posed by climate impacts and the low carbon transition. Last month the world's largest asset manager BlackRock joined the Climate Action 100+ campaign, while its CEO Larry Fink pledged to set a "new standard" for sustainable investing.
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