Protestors shake up bank AGMs in week of focus on climate

Credit Suisse, HSBC, Barclays and Standard Chartered saw eventful meetings with shareholders


Christine Dawson

Protesters have glued themselves to chairs, sung ABBA and accused board members of being complicit in climate genocide in a week where climate resolutions gained breakthrough traction at banks’ AGMs.

Here, we’ve rounded up the eventful meetings, and climate voting results, at Credit Suisse, HSBC, Barclays and Standard Chartered.

Credit Suisse

Last Friday at Credit Suisse’s AGM, results came in for the first climate resolution at a Swiss company. It received support from 18.52% of shareholders despite proxy advisers Glass Lewis and ISS recommending shareholders vote against.

NGO ShareAction along with Ethos Foundation and a coalition of 11 investors representing €2.2trn filed the resolution that asked Credit Suisse to improve disclosure on how it is aligned with the Paris Agreement and how it plans to reduce fossil fuel exposure.

ShareAction noted the resolution received greater support than similar first-of-their-kind resolutions in other jurisdictions. An investor-led climate resolution at Total in 2022 received 16.8% of support, for example. And in 2009, resolutions on oil sands filed by ShareAction, Greenpeace UK, and Coop Asset Management at Shell and BP received around 10% of support.

Jeanne Martin, senior campaign manager at ShareAction, said: “Today’s voting result is a huge signal of support for Credit Suisse to strengthen its climate plan and accelerate its transition away from fossil fuels.

“We urge the bank to take notice and incorporate the asks of concerned investors ahead of its 2023 Say on Climate vote, or expect a similar, if not greater, shareholder rebellion at its 2023 AGM.”

The bank said in light of the proposal it had decided to submit additional disclosure to shareholders for a consultative vote at the 2023 AGM.

It also said it had decided to introduce new restrictions around financing of oil sands, deep sea mining and Arctic oil and gas.

It has since been reported the troubled bank is facing a class action in the US for allegedly violating federal securities laws in its business dealings with Russian oligarchs. 


While shareholders were not permitted to attend the Credit Suisse AGM in person, HSBC’s AGM in London on the same day did permit physical attendance. Some of those at the meeting struck up a musical protest during HSBC chairman Mark Tucker’s speech, singing a revised version of Abba’s Money Money, Money.

Tucker said he would have to have the protestors escorted from the meeting if they continued being disruptive.

Money Rebellion, a spinoff from Extinction Rebellion, was behind the protest and said HSBC has invested around €125 billion into fossil fuels since the Paris Climate Agreement was signed in 2016.

A statement from the group said: “[HSBC] remains a major banker for Saudi Aramco and Exxonmobil, which are ranked first and fourth respectively in the Carbon Majors database of fossil fuel companies responsible for global carbon emissions since 1965.”

ShareAction leads a coalition of investors that has been engaging with HSBC and in March secured commitments from the bank it would phase down financing of fossil fuels in line with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C and that it would update the scope of its oil, gas, and thermal coal policies by the end of 2022.


Protesters at Barclay’s AGM in Manchester this week struck an even more rebellious note with, what one observer called, a “Mexican wave” of interruptions causing delays to the beginning of the meeting.

Disruptions included one man standing on a chair and stating how much money Barclays has invested in fossil fuel extraction since the signing of the Paris Agreement. Another activist, among three in total who glued themselves to their chairs, told the board, “You are all complicit in climate genocide.” Others set off personal alarms and also interrupted with statements.

Nearly one in five – 19.19% – of shareholders used the bank’s Say on Climate vote to reject the climate strategy Barclays published in March.

The plan was criticised at the time for not being Paris-aligned because it failed to update its oil and gas policy and thereby enabled it to finance oil sands and new oil and gas projects.

Proxy advisers Glass Lewis and ISS had recommended investors vote for the climate strategy.

Kelly Shields, senior project officer at ShareAction, said: “Today’s voting result shows that a significant fraction of Barclays’ shareholder base continues to be unconvinced by the bank’s climate strategy. They have reason to.

“Despite being Europe’s largest financier of fossil fuels, Barclays continues to have one of the weakest oil and gas policies in the European banking sector – one it failed to update ahead of its AGM.”

The group encouraged Barclays to treat the result as a controversial vote, as the UK Corporate Governance Code states is the case when 20% or more of the votes go against a board recommendation, and respond to shareholders’ climate concerns within six months.

According to a ShareAction statement, Barclays should commit to:

  • Bring forward its coal phase out deadline for all OECD countries to 2030 at the latest;
  • Update its oil and gas policy;
  • Publish an ambitious green finance strategy; and
  • Use the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) net-zero emissions scenario as the minimum baseline for all of its 2030 targets.

Standard Chartered

Standard Chartered bank also had its AGM in London this week with more climate protests disrupting proceedings.

Some among attendees chanted, “Standard Chartered, please just stop it. Life on Earth before your profit.”

A resolution coordinated by Market Forces and Friends Provident Foundation noted despite the bank’s commitment to net zero by 2050, its current policies and financing are in breach of this goal. The resolution received support from 11.7% of shareholders who voted.

Standard Chartered’s own climate resolution saw 16.98% voting against.

Adam McGibbon, UK campaign lead at Market Forces, said: “Standard Chartered’s institutional investors have some serious questions to answer about their commitment to climate action. The bank’s climate policies have failed to prevent financing for some of the world’s biggest polluters, and shareholders are allowing themselves to be misled by the bank’s claims to ‘align’ with the IEA’s Net Zero by 2050 scenario.”

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