LETTER: Climate far from centre stage
'Exposure to climate change risk' is not a green issue, it is a financial issue
The suggestion that recent annual general meeting resolutions are “an indication that green issues are increasingly taking centre stage” errs on two important counts (“Resolutions on climate change pass, and fail, at FirstRand AGM”, November 28).
First, “exposure to climate change risk” is not a green issue, it is a financial issue: the risks of failed investments or stranded assets exist regardless of shareholder concern for the environment, and the scale of the risk increases with the cumulative effects of greenhouse gasses. That climate change is not recognised as an economic issue is a big part of the problem.
Second, this refusal to assess and report on exposure to this economic risk (following the precedent of Standard Bank) shows that climate-change response is nowhere near centre stage. Refusal on the grounds that a year is not long enough to undertake an initial assessment is pathetic, and to then claim that FirstRand is “seized with the issue” indicates that chair Roger Jardine and his board dismally fail to understand it.
Promising a policy on fossil fuel lending is but a sop, particularly if it is developed without assessment of the carbon consequences of existing investment. Precedent suggests this will only rule out the most egregiously polluting technologies, providing no real constraint on emissions growth. Far from good progress, such prevarication and deflection is no better than denial.