Barclays PLC's new policy against climate change garnered more support from shareholders at the bank's annual general meeting than a shareholder resolution calling on the U.K. lender to phase out financing for fossil fuel companies.
In what was considered as the first climate change resolution at a European bank, investor activist group ShareAction demanded that Barclays provides a plan to stop financing to the energy sector and to gas and electric utilities that are not aligned with the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Barclays later mapped out a new policy aimed at making its lending conform with the 2015 Paris accord and at transforming into a "net zero bank" by 2050.
Of total votes cast at the U.K. lender's May 7 annual general meeting, 99.9% were in favor of Barclays' climate policy and only 24.0% supported ShareAction's resolution. However, Barclays will now have to formally respond to its shareholders as more than 20% of votes were in favor of ShareAction's resolution, the invest group said the same day.
ShareAction CEO Catherine Howarth said the voting results "will send shockwaves through the banking industry." "While Barclays is Europe's largest fossil fuel financier, it is far from being the only bank to prop up companies that are driving the climate crisis," she said. "We recently published evidence that no European bank is yet doing what's needed to meet the Paris climate goals."
Environmental activists had sprayed imitation oil on Barclays headquarters in protest of the bank's support for energy businesses, Reuters reported May 7.
Meanwhile, Barclays CEO Jes Staley was reelected as a director of the company, with 99.6% of votes. Shareholder Sherborne Investors in April withheld its vote against Staley's reappointment while maintaining that Staley "made a series of dubious judgments" regarding his connection to deceased U.S. financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.