Sasol rejects demand for shareholder resolutions on climate

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Sasol has rejected a demand from shareholder activists on climate-related resolutions
Sasol has rejected a demand from shareholder activists on climate-related resolutions

South Africa’s second-biggest producer of greenhouse gases has rejected a demand from shareholder activists that it table resolutions at its annual general meetings to align its climate-related goals with the Paris Agreement.

The three resolutions from Just Share NPC and the Raith Foundation, which would also make elements of executive pay contingent on meeting the goals, won’t be considered by its shareholders at the November 20 meeting, the company said in a letter to the activists sent to Bloomberg by Just Share.

Sasol, whose Secunda coal-to-fuel plant is the world’s biggest single-site emitter of greenhouse gases, said the resolutions would impinge upon the authority of management, and in any event its target to cut emissions by 10% by 2030 is in line with the Paris Agreement. The international pact aims to keep the increase in global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius this century.

“Shareholders cannot usurp the authority of the directors or interfere in the management of a company,” Sasol said in the letter dated October 30. “It is our view that our target and the associated road map are aligned with the principles of the Paris Agreement that provide for such to be appropriate for the specific conditions of each of the countries as parties to the agreement.”

The company declined to comment further. Sasol and other South African companies, including the nations’ biggest banks, are coming under increasing pressure to take more action to reduce global warming by reducing emissions and not funding facilities that mine or use fossil fuels.

“Sasol appears to be refusing to allow shareholders to have a voice on this crucial issue so that management can maintain control over the pace and scale of change,” said Tracey Davies, director of Cape Town-based Just Share. “At present, this pace and scale is far too slow and too small.”

She disputed Sasol’s claim that its target is aligned with the Paris Agreement, saying South Africa’s own climate aims are insufficient.

The two activist organisations have written to some of Sasol’s biggest shareholders in a bid to enlist their support. The letter, sent to Bloomberg, was addressed to Fidelity International Ltd., AllianceBernstein Holding LP, Ninety One Plc and Coronation Fund Managers Ltd.

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