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One week before the AGM, asset managers Old Mutual Investment Group (OMIG) and Ninety One announced they would vote against the non-binding resolution on Sasol’s decarbonisation commitments.

Sasol’s decarbonisation plan, which they presented in their annual climate change report, includes targets to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% by 2030 – reached through the decommissioning of boilers, the increased use of renewable energy by 50%, and the introduction of liquified natural gas to reduce Sasol’s reliance on coal.

“It strikes us that this year’s non-binding advisory resolution on climate change makes no reference to targets (as was the case in previous years), and as such, doesn’t sufficiently afford shareholders the opportunity to voice discontent with progress on climate change strategy implementation, which is the fundamental right of shareholders in having this item on the AGM agenda in the first place,” said Nicole Martens, Head of Stewardship  for Old Mutual Investment Group in a letter to investors.

“This approach is in direct contradiction to our repeated requests to the company to provide more information on tangible short- and medium-term targets, alongside detailed action plans and accountability mechanisms,” the letter continues.

Martens said Old Mutual has been actively engaging with Sasol on its approach to the climate emergency for a number of years, including through a shareholder resolution in 2019 calling for the strengthening of the company’s climate plan, as outlined in their Listed Equity Stewardship Guidelines 2022, but said progress with their climate targets “appears to be regressing”.

“It is our view that Sasol’s insufficiently ambitious action on climate is putting the country’s ability to transition at risk,” Martens said.

The group took the decision to vote against several resolutions, including against approving Sasol’s Climate Change report.

Sasol CEO and President Fleetwood Grobler during a disruption to the company’s 2023 AGM, when climate activists took to the stage, Sasol Headquarters, Sandton. (Photo: Julia Evans)

Asset manager Ninety One also decided to vote against the report, saying that “whilst climate disclosure is good and we are broadly comfortable with the science-based methodology behind the 30% CO2e reduction target for 2030, which Sasol have indicated they remain committed to, there is still too much uncertainty and lack of momentum around the implementation of the strategy, particularly the uncertainty around gas supply and a clear alternative”.

Old Mutual and Ninety One are some of Sasol’s biggest investors, with Ninety One having $490-million invested in bonds ($28-million) and shares.

Read full article by Julia Evans on Daily Maverick here