Eight state treasurers said Thursday that they are joining other institutional shareholders in pressuring J.P. Morgan Chase for governance reforms to address climate change.
State treasurers of Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin said they will vote on resolutions calling for J.P. Morgan Chase to align its financing activity with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change and to adopt an independent board chairman. The treasurers also are opposing the re-election of board director and former Exxon Mobil CEO Lee Raymond, who has expressed skepticism of climate change.
"Holding boards accountable on climate change is one of the most important ways to make progress. We are seeing this level of recognition and action really growing among institutional investors," said Eli Kasargod-Staub, executive director of Majority Action, which includes the Climate Majority Project that is working with the treasurers.
The bank's May 19 annual meeting will include resolutions calling for J.P. Morgan directors to disclose if and how they plan to align the company with the goals of Paris Agreement. In addition to seeking to block the reappointment of Mr. Raymond, institutional investors, including New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, the fiduciary for the five pension funds in the $211.2 billion New York City system; New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, sole trustee of the $225.9 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany; and officials from the $372.9 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, are calling for an independent chairman.
J.P. Morgan is reportedly the world's largest financier of fossil fuels, which have experienced dramatic price drops recently in part due to the coronavirus pandemic and corporate measures to address climate change. "Investors are really starting to embrace the view that accountability for these kinds of systemic risks (related to climate change) really needs to start at the top," Mr. Kasargod-Staub said in an interview.