By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi
ZURICH (Reuters) – UBS shareholders on Wednesday approved the bank’s climate roadmap, after its first-ever such vote faced pushback from several investors and climate campaigners as not going far enough.
In all 77.74% of shareholder votes backed Switzerland’s biggest bank’s climate proposal — presented to investors as their first “Say-on-Climate” — setting interim targets to progress towards net zero emissions by 2050.
“Our ‘Say-on-Climate’ advisory vote is a key milestone on UBS’s journey to net zero and as the first bank to have taken this step proactively, we are pleased with this result,” UBS said in a statement.
The approval rate was the lowest of any of the proposals put to shareholders at the bank’s annual general meeting.
UBS in March set targets aiming to cut its financing of fossil fuel emissions by more than two-thirds by 2030, joining other lenders setting targets for the first time this year.
However, NGOs and shareholder groups pointed to gaps in the proposals.
“Globally we welcome UBS’s decision to submit its climate plan to shareholder vote and the bank’s commitment to net zero,” said Vincent Kaufmann, chief executive at Swiss pension fund adviser Ethos. “However, the current targets do not cover essential element(s) of the banking activity.”
Ethos recommended investors reject UBS’s climate roadmap, saying its new reduction targets covered less than 50% of UBS’s lending portfolio, excluding key areas such as capital markets underwriting.
Proxy adviser Glass Lewis had recommended investors abstain from voting over a lack of disclosure concerning governance of the vote, while ISS had recommended approval.
(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Michael Shields)