Climate-focused investor group backs audit challenge at CRH

An iceberg floats in a fjord near the town of Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
  • Climate Action 100+ flags audit concern to members
  • Sarasin & Partners says to oppose audit chair at AGM
  • Will also oppose re-election of the auditor

LONDON, April 11 (Reuters) - The world's biggest investor group pushing for faster climate action has backed a shareholder rebellion at the annual meeting of Irish building supplies company CRH over the way it factors climate risk into its accounts.

Investors had previously written to CRH and 16 other companies warning they faced opposition if they failed to adequately show how their finances will be impacted by the transition to a low-carbon economy. read more

Climate Action 100+ (CA100+) said on Monday it had flagged the issue to members, which manage $68 trillion in assets, although there was no obligation on them to vote a certain way.

It followed a decision by Sarasin & Partners, the lead CA100+ investor engaging with CRH, to announce its intention to vote against the audit committee chair, auditor and the company's accounts.

"Despite a long-standing engagement by investors, CRH’s accounts have failed to provide visibility on how its financial position would be impacted by the global transition onto a 1.5C pathway," said Sarasin's Head of Stewardship Natasha Landell-Mills, referring to the global effort to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average.

Specifically, Landell-Mills said investors needed to understand how CRH's assets, liabilities and profitability would be impacted by potential policy changes such as rising carbon taxes or a requirement to capture hard-to-abate emissions.

CRH declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Its annual meeting will be held on April 28.

"The flagging of three CRH votes – the first-ever for net zero accounting related resolutions – puts the spotlight squarely on the company ahead of its AGM," said Stephanie Pfeifer, vice-chair of the CA100+ Steering Committee.

"While it is for individual investors to make the own voting decisions, this nonetheless sends a clear signal and could be a watershed moment in the campaign to hold Audit Committee Chairs and auditors to account."

Reporting by Simon Jessop Editing by Mark Potter and David Evans

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