Credit Suisse faces investor call to cut lending for fossil fuels

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen in Zurich

By Simon Jessop and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi

LONDON/ZURICH – Investors managing $2.4 trillion are calling on Credit Suisse to take tougher climate action, including cutting its exposure to fossil fuel assets.

“The message from investors is clear: Credit Suisse must urgently back its long-term net-zero ambition with robust fossil fuel disclosures, policies, and targets,” Jeanne Martin, senior campaign manager at ShareAction, said in a statement.

The 11-strong group, which includes Europe’s biggest asset manager Amundi, said Switzerland’s second-biggest bank also needed to improve its climate disclosures, align its coal, oil and gas policies with best-practice and set short-term targets to cut fossil fuel-related lending.

The group, which includes the municipal pension fund for Credit Suisse’s home city of Zurich and the Swiss federal pension fund, said it was submitting a resolution to Credit Suisse’s annual general meeting (AGM) on April 29.

If taken to a vote, the resolution, coordinated by responsible investment NGO ShareAction and Swiss pension fund adviser Ethos Foundation together with the Swiss Association for Responsible Investments, would be the first climate-related vote to be put to a Swiss company at its AGM.

Credit Suisse said it was engaged in dialogue with shareholders and would outline reductions to its oil, gas and coal financing in its sustainability report on Thursday.

“Credit Suisse’s sustainability position is clear,” the bank said in an emailed statement. “We have made a public commitment to achieve net zero across our operations, supply chain and financing activities by 2050.”

Interim targets include monitoring the reduction of both emissions and lending exposure to the oil, gas and coal sector.

The resolution follows the retraction of one at last year’s AGM calling for the phasing out of coal financing.

Credit Suisse published a new coal policy at the COP26 climate talks in November.

The investor group said that policy had “several concerning loopholes,” including allowing the bank to keep funding companies for “energy transition” purposes without a clear definition of what that meant.

Credit Suisse had a torrid 2021, with scandals prompting executive oustings, a full-year loss and a strategic overhaul. A recently created sustainability division was folded back into its business units under new leadership.

($1 = 0.9182 euros)

(Reporting by Simon Jessop and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Mark Potter)

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