UK local government pension group seeks mandatory climate votes

LONDON (Reuters) - A leading British local government pension group on Thursday said regulators should require companies to give investors an annual vote on the board’s plans to cut carbon emissions.

The call from the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) follows on from British billionaire Chris Hohn’s “Say on Climate” initiative launched in November to push for such votes.

The LAPFF, whose member schemes manage more than 300 billion pounds in assets, said a vote needed to be a requirement, given the potential hit to shareholders if companies did not manage climate risk.

The LAPFF said its members had been filing resolutions on environmental and climate issues since 1997, but shareholders’ ability to use their voting rights to specifically address climate change was limited.

“The Forum believes filing resolutions at a limited number of companies of high carbon impact is no longer enough,” it said in a statement.

“All listed companies need to present a clear strategy for reducing their entire carbon footprint... on which investors can vote on annually at the AGM.”

The group said asset owners and asset managers needed to reflect the “Say on Climate” campaign in their investment and voting policies. Where companies refuse to hold such a vote, in the absence of regulation, investors should consider filing their own resolutions.

Hohn, launched his initiative through his charitable foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, in late November after successfully pushing Spanish airports operator Aena to hold a vote.

Reporting by Simon Jessop; editing by Barbara Lewis