【News】 With new shareholder resolution, Kiko Network calls for MUFG to strengthen climate measures
On March 29, 2021, Japanese NGO Kiko Network, along with three individual investors, filed a climate shareholder resolution to Mitsubishi UFJ Financial group (hereafter “MUFG”). This climate resolution calls on the company to adopt and disclose a plan to align its financing and investments with the Paris Agreement.
In 2019, MUFG decided in principle not to provide loans for new coal-fired power plant projects and committed to zero out project financing for coal-fired operations by 2040. However, MUFG continues to invest and underwrite large-scale projects that are accelerating coal-related business enterprises and expanding the use of fossil fuels. Kiko Network and the three individual investors filed the shareholder resolution on the basis that MUFG’s current policy is not strong enough to achieve the 1.5ºC goal of the Paris Agreement.
On April 26, MUFG announced a revision of its “Environmental and Social Policy Framework“ that includes policy for the coal-fired power, forestry and palm oil sectors. Under this updated policy, MUFG stipulates that in principle, it will not provide financing for the expansion of existing coal-fired power generation facilities, adding to its previous pledge to not finance the construction of new coal-fired power plants. However, this policy leaves worrying exceptions regarding coal-fired power generation with CCUS, mixed combustion, and other technologies, which work only to prolong the life of coal-fired power plants and will not significantly contribute to neither the emission reductions needed by 2030 nor to achieving the Paris Agreement goal.
In Japan, there are few cases in which shareholders take action regarding a company’s policy on climate change, but cases are increasing outside of Japan where companies respond to engagement from their shareholders and institutional investors, and shareholders are increasingly influencing corporate policymaking of financial institutions and fossil fuel-related businesses. On its website “Critical Climate Votes”, US environmental NGO Sunrise provides information about shareholder resolutions related to climate issues, and includes this shareholder resolution among the cases listed.
In order to exit from coal, Japanese banks and financial institutions are under pressure to tighten their lending policies for coal-related businesses. It is necessary to watch and see if this shareholder resolution might further accelerate efforts by financial institutions.
- [Joint Press Release] Japan’s largest bank MUFG tightens coal power and forest sector policies – but far from aligned with Paris Agreement (2021/4/26)
- [PRESS RELEASE] Japan’s Largest Bank Targeted by Climate Resolution (2021/3/29)
- Press Release : Voting results of shareholder resolution for Mizuho Financial Group (2nd tally) (2021/1/21)