Nedbank has become the first company in SA to voluntarily table climate financing resolutions in accordance with the Paris Agreement, says shareholder activist group Just Share.

“The two resolutions that commit to adopting and publicly disclosing an energy policy and undertaking to measure, disclose and assess its exposure to climate-related risks, together with the group's commitment to align its trajectory with the goals of the Paris Agreement, is something we have not seen from any other SA corporate,” says Just Share director Tracey Davies.

The Paris Agreement is a multilateral environmental accord adopted by almost every nation in the world in 2015 with the overarching aim of implementing measures to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent global warming.

The agreement's goal is to restrict the global average temperature increase to 2°C above preindustrial levels.

Nedbank voluntarily included two resolutions relating to its activities in respect of climate change ahead of its AGM scheduled for May 20.

Ordinary resolution 6.1 commits the group to the “adoption and public disclosure of an energy policy by April 2021.

“They are calling it an energy policy, so it extends to oil and gas, not just coal, and I understand they intend to disclose what percentage of their assets is exposed to fossil fuel lending. No other group has done that before. Nedbank is by far the most proactive,” says Davies.

The second resolution gives the group the authority to report on the company’s approach to measuring, disclosing and assessing its exposure to climate-related risks.

Climate change is becoming increasingly important. The board endorses two resolutions for shareholders to vote on, the bank said.

Davies is confident both resolutions will pass.

Just Share has been pushing the country’s corporates to publish policies on climate-related risks to encourage greater transparency with respect to commercial activities as it relates to climate change, with varying degrees of success.

According to research provided by Just Share, petrochemicals giant Sasol in 2018 and 2019 declined to propose a climate risk resolution. Last year, Standard Bank became the first local company to table climate change-related shareholder resolutions but did not do so in 2020. FirstRand tabled its first resolution in 2019.

Absa tabled a climate change resolution in a “non-binding advisory” vote followed by Nedbank this year.