The board of South Africa’s Standard Bank has been targeted for change by climate change activists, led by the Just Share NGO.
The group complains that seven of Standard Bank’s 18 board members are “conflicted” on climate change, as a result of their links to the fossil fuel industry. As a result, Just Share and its partner NGOs have called for shareholders to vote against the election – or re-election of these directors.
Standard Bank is due to hold its AGM electronically on June 26.
The NGO noted that, under the Companies Act 2008, board members with conflicts of interest must recuse themselves from board meetings.
For these seven members to recuse themselves would create a “corporate governance void” on some of the most important strategic issues. A failure to recuse would see them “compromising the ability of the board” to provide leadership on climate matters, the NGO said.
Just Share named five of the board members Trix Kennealy, Nomgando Matyumza, Priscillah Mabelane, Nonkululeko Nyembezi and Jacko Maree as being up for appointment at the AGM.
Kennealy, Matyumza and Mabelane are also employed at Sasol. Nyembezi is CEO and executive director of Ichor Coal and Maree is independent non-executive director (INED) at Phembani Group, which has links to various coal and refining groups.
Another two directors, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi and Lubin Wang, represent Exxaro and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) respectively. ICBC has a 20% stake in Standard Bank and Just Share described it as a “key player” in financing oil and gas projects in Africa.
Standard Bank has signed up to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Banking (UNPRB), which aligns with the Paris Agreement. Financing of fossil fuels was described by Just Share as incompatible with the Paris deal.
The bank included a resolution on climate change in its 2019 AGM process, which would require greater transparency on assessing greenhouse gas emissions and also adopt a new policy on lending to coal projects. The board called for shareholders to reject it, and they did with 61% voting against additional transparency.
Just Share and the Raith Foundation filed for another resolution at the upcoming AGM, requesting Standard Bank extend its coal financing policies to oil and gas. The bank refused to include the resolution.