Toyota shareholders reject climate resolution in a win for automaker

Toyota image: — © AFP/File Behrouz MEHRI

Investors in Toyota have backed the company’s management and rejected a shareholder challenge on its climate policy.

Toyota’s 10-member board, including Chairman Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the company founder and a board director, were in the hot seat for a short time at the automaker’s first annual general meeting in almost two decades.

A proposal was initiated by AkademikerPension, a US$20 billion Danish investment fund, reports CTV News Canada. It accused Toyota Motor Corp. of lobbying to weaken efforts by governments around the world to phase out the internal combustion engine.

AkademikerPension, along with two other European asset managers sought to make Toyota release more details about its lobbying activities related to climate change.

And while the proposal was expected to fail, according to Reuters, primarily because of the very strong support of shareholders with the current board, the proposal did manage to sharpen the focus on Toyota’s electric vehicle (EV) strategy and governance ahead of the meeting, the first under new CEO Koji Sato.

Green investors and activists have said Toyota has been too slow to capitalize on the surging popularity of battery electrics. And a number of influential U.S. funds, including top public pension CalPERS, had come out in favor of the climate resolution and against the re-election of board members including Toyoda.

Also backing the proposal was a Norwegian financial services company, Storebrand Asset Management, and a Dutch pension investment company, APG Asset Management.

“From an investment perspective, we’re concerned that Toyota is missing out on profits from soaring EV sales, jeopardizing its valuable brand and cementing its global laggard status,” Anders Schelde, CIO at the Danish fund, said in a statement ahead of the meeting.

“The fact that this kind of proposal exists is quite significant in itself. It shows that dialogue alone is clearly insufficient,” said Daniel Read, climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia, after attending the company’s meeting in Toyota City, the Financial Times is reporting.

Despite the rejection of the proposal, shareholders voted in favor of Toyoda and nine other members of the board, but the breakdown of the vote has yet to be released. 

Toyota shareholders reject climate resolution in a win for automaker
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