Investors urged to veto Credit Suisse’s climate plan

Latest climate plan is 'one of the weakest in the European banking sector'

Credit Suisse shareholders are being called to vote against the investment bank’s latest climate strategy, which has been described as “not fit for purpose”.

The group published its Say on Climate plan this week setting out five additional emissions reductions targets for the power generation, commercial real estate, iron and steel, aluminium, and automotive sectors. It will be put to an advisory vote to shareholders at its AGM on 4 April 2023.

However, non-profit ShareAction pointed out the bank, one of Europe’s top financiers of coal projects, has not updated its oil and gas policy or indicated where it might reduce financing for fossil fuels. It also said while it “slightly improved transparency” through some additional disclosures around its Client Energy Transition Framework, the bank did not express an intention to do so on an undefined timeline, and failed to incorporate capital markets activities in its disclosures and targets. 

Responding to the plan, Kelly Shields, campaign and project manager at ShareAction, said:  “Credit Suisse’s new climate strategy is not fit for purpose – it ignores two of the most crucial areas of fossil fuel financing that would have enabled the bank to reach net zero by 2050.  

“The bank must urgently update its oil and gas policy, which is one of the weakest in the European banking sector, with a particular focus on fracking. Until Credit Suisse publishes a timebound plan to incorporate capital markets activities, which represent the bulk of its financing to top oil and gas expanders, in its disclosures and targets, shareholders must continue to press the bank for greater ambition on climate. 

“For these reasons, ShareAction is urging investors to vote against the proposal. As the bank restructures it has a vital opportunity to ensure its sustainability commitments are at the core of its business and are ambitious enough to tackle the worsening climate crisis around the world.”   

Investors have been given three weeks to assess the plan and then can use their voting right to signal the current level of ambition demonstrated by Credit Suisse on climate is unsatisfactory, added ShareAction in a statement.

Last year, Legal and General Investment Management and Aviva Investors joined a group of Credit Suisse investors supporting a shareholder resolution on the bank’s climate strategy. The resolution urges Credit Suisse to share long- and short-term targets to reduce its fossil fuel exposure in line with the timeframe of the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement. 

Credit Suisse responded by offering shareholders an advisory vote on its climate report in 2023, ShareAction said but this did not “adequately address the concerns raised by the resolution, which requested concrete climate commitments and to embed sustainability in the bank’s articles of association, requiring the bank to deliver on its net-zero goal despite changes in governance structure. 

As the Swiss bank is now undergoing radical organisational restructuring, fully embedding climate change into its processes presents an important commercial opportunity for the group, said ShareAction.

Look out for more coverage of shareholder resolutions on ESG issues in ESG Clarity and our bank AGM roundup in May.