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Shareholder activists focused on climate issues vowed to press proxy battles with JPMorgan Chase & Co. after getting a cold reception from the top Wall Street bank, even though Chief Executive Jamie Dimon has vowed to protect the environment.
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Activists, including the As You Sow Foundation, Trillium Asset Management and Boston Trust Walden, said they had received notices that the bank has asked for regulatory permission to skip votes at its spring annual meeting on proposals such as reporting on greenhouse gas emissions tied to its lending.
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JPMorgan’s position creates reputational risks at a time when clients and investors want banks to help slow the rate of a global rise in temperature, according to a joint statement from the activists on Wednesday.
“They’re not walking their talk,” said Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow, in an interview.
She noted how, in correspondence with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission posted on the agency’s website, JPMorgan argued that her group’s request for an emissions report amounted to an attempt to “micromanage” the company.
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“I was surprised at the depth and breadth of the argument saying there’s no way you can talk to us about anything,” Fugere said.
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Asked about the matter, a JPMorgan representative referred to arguments it laid out in filings to the SEC. In addition to the micromanagement concern, JPMorgan, among other things, said the issues related to “ordinary business” and that its board does not approve its proxy voting policy.
Top U.S. corporations routinely seek permission to skip controversial shareholder proposals. Activists have also filed climate proposals at other banks and energy companies, and have sought votes against JPMorgan lead independent director Lee Raymond, a former Exxon Mobil Corp CEO.
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