Shareholder activist group wants Sasol to come clean about climate lobbying

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Sasol's plant in Secunda, Mpumalanga.
Sasol's plant in Secunda, Mpumalanga.
  • Just Share and Aeon Investment Management want Sasol to detail its climate lobbying activities.
  • The minority shareholders say the resolution has nothing to do with their holding in the company as bigger equity holders often don't take an activism role.
  • Just Share is known for pushing companies to adopt transparent climate change policies.

Sasol has been asked by two minority shareholders to outline its climate lobbying activities in its Climate Change report for 2022. 

The nonprofit shareholder activism organisation Just Share and Aeon Investment Management state that Sasol's report includes a "brief assessment" of its alignment with industry associations, and concludes that all of the assessed industry associations are aligned with the Paris Agreement goals.

"However, this review is incomplete, and its conclusions are not supported by independent assessments of climate lobbying by Sasol and a number of these associations."

Just Share and Aeon want their climate-lobbying resolution to be tabled at Sasol's annual general meeting (AGM) on 19 November and voted on by shareholders. They further demand a list of all industry associations involved in climate-related lobbying, policy influence, engagements with bodies that Sasol is a member of, and the fees paid to those associations.

Just Share's executive director Tracey Davies said its shareholder resolution has nothing to do with the number of its shares in Sasol, as every shareholder will get an opportunity to vote on the resolution.

"Most shareholders' proposed resolutions around the world are filed by groups with small holdings in companies. The big shareholders, especially in South Africa, generally do not take that role. But our activism gives the big shareholders an opportunity to have a say on this crucial issue," Davies told Fin24.

The organisation stated that Sasol is a member in several industry associations involved in climate lobbying and policy engagement, and chairs the Industry Task Team on Climate Change, the environmental subcommittee of Business Unity South Africa, and is a board member of the Minerals Council of South Africa.

They claim organisations have "consistently and successfully lobbied against the introduction of an effective carbon tax in South Africa" and that the Minerals Council also appears to lead the Coal Mining Matters initiative which aggressively advocates in favour of "clean coal technologies", even though all evidence makes clear that there are no solutions to neutralise all – or even most – of the dire environmental and climate change impacts caused by the mining, production, supply and disposal of coal.

Sasol confirmed the proposed shareholder resolution, saying it will respond to the parties.

Just Share has been a thorn in the side of several major companies on issues of climate change, and has previously taken aim at Standard Bank’s policy on fossil fuels financing.

In May, it was part of a group of shareholders that filed a resolution seeking information on the bank's short-, medium- and long-term targets aimed at reducing its exposure to fossil fuel assets on a timeline aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

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