First post-Paris test of corporate carbon accountability and climate action.

Global bank ANZ, a significant lender to the fossil fuel sector, is facing the possibility of an investor revolt in the wake of a likely international accord limiting carbon emissions.

Launching Nov. 19, the Vote Your Pension (VYP) campaign (Vote Your Super for Australian audiences) comes as world leaders prepare to gather in Paris to thrash out a global deal to tackle emissions.

The campaign calls on pension fund members around the world – who are likely to be invested in ANZ through their retirement savings – to contact their individual pension fund and persuade them to vote for a resolution that asks the banking group to assess and reduce the carbon intensity of its lending and investments. The vote will be a litmus test of the impact of the Paris climate talks (COP21), with its annual meeting only four days after the summit ends on Dec. 17.

“With an agreement to cut global emissions firmly on the agenda, this is a chance for pension and superannuation fund members – the ultimate owners of ANZ – to use their power to ensure a major corporation becomes fully accountable on fossil fuel exposure and the implied risks,” says Julian Poulter, CEO of the Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP).

“The ultimate test will come when we see to what extent pension funds respond to the demands of theirmembers, whose retirement savings they manage,” he adds.

ANZ is one of the 33 AA-rated banks in the world, an indication that its creditworthiness is at such a level to warrant largescale investment by pension funds and their asset managers.

“This major global bank compares unfavourably to international peers on climate risk disclosure and management,” Poulter says, “which is not that surprising given ANZ has a history of of lending to controversial projects, and recently refused to rule out lending to the proposed Adani mine project in Central Queensland.”

Caroline Le Couteur, Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) Executive Director, says: “ANZ shareholders want to know what their company is doing about the risks to its reputation and bottom line of its investment in fossil fuels.”

ACCR lead-filed the shareholder resolution on carbon asset risk included on the Notice of Meeting for this year’s ANZ AGM.

“ANZ looks to have on its balance sheet the most lending of any of the top four Australian banks to highly carbon intensive businesses. Meanwhile Australia has a new prime minister, who takes climate change seriously, while the world is about to meet in Paris to ramp up plans to reduce carbon pollution,” she adds.

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