Ginny Cleaveland, Deputy Press Secretary, Fossil-Free Finance, Sierra Club, email@example.com, 415-508-8498 (Pacific Time)
NEW YORK — US bank JPMorgan Chase held its annual general meeting today, where shareholders voted on several investor proposals calling for progress on its climate commitments. JPMorgan Chase is the biggest bank in the US and the biggest fossil fuel financier in the world, according to the annual Banking on Climate Chaos report.
The resolutions included a proposal from the Sierra Club Foundation asking the bank to adopt a time-bound phase out of financing new fossil fuel exploration and development (8% support), a proposal from the New York City Comptroller asking the bank to disclose 2030 absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets for its energy portfolio (12% support), and a proposal from As You Sow asking the bank to publish a transition plan to align its financing activities with its 2030 emissions reduction targets (35% support). The transition planning proposal received the highest vote total yet among similar resolutions at big US banks this year. (The last of the big 6 US banks, Morgan Stanley, will hold its annual meeting on Friday, May 19.)
- See results from similar shareholder proposals at the annual meetings of Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs.
In addition, shareholders failed to hold JPMorgan Chase’s Board of Directors accountable for lack of progress on climate, with only 9% of investors voting against chairs responsible for climate risk oversight (Linda Bammann, Chair of the Risk Committee and James Crown, Chair of the Public Responsibility Committee). New research by DeSmog revealed that 1 in 5 directors on boards of US banking majors, including JPMorgan Chase, have past or current ties to the fossil fuel industry. Advocacy groups believe these conflicts of interest may account for the bank’s slow progress on climate change.
Similar proposals on financing fossil fuel expansion and absolute emissions targets were filed last year at JPMorgan Chase and received 10.9% and 15.2% support, respectively. Several amendments were made to the fossil fuel financing proposals filed this year at JPMorgan Chase and other banks, including asking the banks to adopt a policy to phase out financing for projects and companies engaging in new fossil fuel exploration and development, activities which are incompatible with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and encouraging the banks to provide financing for energy sector clients to credibly transition to cleaner technologies, which could safeguard against greenwashing and accelerate the clean energy transition.
In response to the news, Jessye Waxman, Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Fossil-Free Finance campaign, issued the following statement:
“While it is promising to see that JPMorgan Chase received the highest vote total yet among the big US banks on a proposal calling for better transition planning, it is beyond disappointing that investors refused to use their influence to encourage stronger climate risk management.
For years, JPMorgan Chase has been the #1 global financier of fossil fuels, showing little progress in shifting its practices to advance its net-zero goals. Despite JPMorgan Chase being one of the worst perpetrators of climate chaos financing, investors failed to vote for stronger accountability. This sends a troubling message that investors are interested in information, but not in meaningful changes that would reduce systemic risks to their portfolios.”
According to the annual Banking on Climate Chaos report, JP Morgan Chase is the biggest financier of fossil fuels in the world since the Paris Agreement, providing $39 billion in financing in 2022 alone, and a total of $434 billion in financing since 2016. It provides financing to controversial companies and projects including those involved in Arctic oil and gas, Amazon oil, tar sands, and coal mining, among others.
All of the climate-related resolutions voted on today were publicly supported in advance by several large institutional investors, including Britain’s biggest asset manager Legal & General Investment Management, as well as the New York City and New York State Comptrollers, the Vermont State Treasurer, the Seattle City Employees Retirement System, Vancity Investment Management, and more. The vote totals suggest that major asset managers BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street — three of the largest shareholders of the big banks with outsized impact on the voting results — failed to support the proposals.
Climate advocacy groups and responsible investors have been increasingly disappointed with global investors — including major asset managers like BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street — for their weakened support of climate-related shareholder proposals. The Sierra Club has specifically critiqued BlackRock for its “abdication of leadership” and Vanguard for withdrawing from the Net Zero Asset Managers (NZAM) initiative.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.