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(Click here or scroll down for English version: Toyota jeopardizes its valuable brand)

Om to dage afholder den japanske bilgigant Toyota generalforsamling. Derfor vælger vi nu at fremsætte vores bekymring over Toyotas negative klimalobbyisme offentligt.

Verden over forsøger forskellige regeringer at udfase biler med forbrændingsmotorer, men med sine lobbyaktiviteter er Toyota med til at bremse den grønne omstilling i bilbranchen.

”Toyotas lobbyarbejde har i vores og mange andre investorers perspektiv givet virksomheden en status som global efternøler med hensyn til ambitiøs klimaindsats i bilsektoren. Offentlige udtalelser, stigende pres på nationale regeringer for at svække transportpolitikker og lobbyisme i det skjulte gennem erhvervssammenslutninger har betydet, at selskabet har fået status som en af de største modstandere af klimapolitisk handling for at udfase fossile biler. Det bringer Toyotas værdifulde brand i fare til skade for aktionærernes interesser”, siger vores investeringschef, Anders Schelde.

Pres på selskabet siden marts 2021

AkademikerPension har engageret sig intensivt i dialogen med Toyota siden marts 2021, hvilket har ført til, at Toyota har lovet at gennemgå og ændre sin lobbypraksis.

Og kort før nytårsaften offentliggjorde Toyota en rapport om nogle af sine lobbyaktiviteter i ”Toyota’s Views on Climate Public Policies 2021".

Rapporten lever dog på ingen måde op til investorernes forventninger, og Toyota har fortsat sin lobbyisme imod klimarelateret regulering og politikker i eksempelvis USA, Storbritannien og Frankrig.

Aktionærforslag afvist

AkademikerPension var også kritisk sidste år, men vi valgte at trække vores aktionærforslag tilbage før generalforsamlingen i 2021, fordi Toyota forpligtede sig til frivilligt at revidere sin lobbypraksis. Men fordi selskabet ufortrødent har fortsat sit lobby-arbejde, indgav AkademikerPension igen i år et aktionærforslag til dettes års generalforsamling. Toyota afviste dog forslaget med begrundelsen om, at forslaget var indgivet en dag for sent i forhold til en deadline, som ikke var offentliggjort.  

"Selskabet har ikke reageret tilstrækkeligt på vores bekymringer og afviste vores aktionærforslag. Det, der betyder noget nu, er, at virksomheden stopper dets negative lobbyaktiviteter imod bindende og ambitiøse klimapolitikker. Det vil i så fald være et skridt i retningen af at beskytte virksomheden mod forbrugernes stigende mistillid og protester fra aktionærerne”, siger Anders Schelde.

Spørgsmål til generalforsamlingen 15. juni

AkademikerPensions anmodning om at holde tale på Toyotas generalforsamling blev også afvist af selskabets ledelse. Derfor har vi skriftligt stillet følgende spørgsmål til Toyotas generalforsamling:

  • "Hvordan stemmer Toyotas offentlige udtalelser og direkte og indirekte lobbyaktiviteter i overensstemmelse med målene i Paris-aftalen om at begrænse den globale temperaturstigning til under 2 ⁰C over det præindustrielle niveau og så tæt på 1,5 ⁰C som muligt?"
  • "Vil Toyotas ledelse tage aktiv handling inden næste års generalforsamling for at reducere selskabets omdømmemæssige risici i forbindelse med virksomhedens offentlige udtalelser og lobbyaktiviteter om klimarelaterede politikker?"
  • "Vil Toyotas ledelse forpligte sig til at afholde sig fra offentlige udtalelser og lobbyaktiviteter, der underminerer overgangen til fuld elektrificering af transport på en tidslinje, der er i overensstemmelse med målene i Paris-aftalen?"

 

Noter

Tidslinje på vores engagement omkring Toyotas lobbyaktiviteter.

4. marts 2021

AkademikerPension indleder dialog med Toyota Motor sammen med investorerne AP7, Church of England og Storebrand. AkademikerPension fremhæver, at vi har til hensigt at indgive aktionærforslag om klimarelateret lobbyisme,

19. april 2021

AkademikerPension trækker aktionærforslaget tilbage på baggrund af forsikringer fra Toyota om, at selskabet vil revidere sin klimarelaterede lobbyaktiviteter, som den omtaler som 'public policy engagement activities', efter pres fra medier og investorer.

10. maj 2021

Aktionærer kritiserer Toyotas administrerende direktør, Toyoda, i Reuters, da han kommer med negative offentlige udtalelser om klimarelateret regulering,

Sep-dec 2021

Vi fortsætter dialogen og med at presse på,

16. nov 2021

Udkastet til Toyotas rapport om selskabets lobbyaktiviteter deles på et møde mellem Toyota og investorgruppen. Vores synspunkter deles med virksomheden og vi følger op med en e-mail med særligt fokus på plads til forbedringer i rapporten.

28. dec 2021

Rapporten "Toyota’s Views on Climate Public Policies 2021" udgives.

Q1-Q2 2022

Investorgruppen mødes igen for at diskutere rapportens kvalitet og vurderer, at den ikke lever op til investorernes forventninger.

AkademikerPension udarbejder og indgiver et aktionærforslag den 20. april 2022, som afvises af Toyota, da det kom en dag for sent til en ikke offentliggjort frist.

 

Det afviste aktionærforslag 2022 kan læses her (på engelsk)

Toyota jeopardizes its valuable brand

 

Today, Monday, June 13, two days before the Toyota Motor Corporation AGM 2022, Danish pension fund AkademikerPension, with over USD 19 billion of assets under management and an active shareholder towards Toyota Motor, expresses serious concerns over ongoing negative climate lobbying.

 

Through this lobbying activity Toyota appears to have repeatedly sought to weaken legitimate attempts by governments around the world to phase out internal combustion engines, and to phase in fuel economy standards and, critically, pure electric vehicles as the world heads towards renewable energy and electrification. 

 

Anders Schelde, CIO of Danish pension fund, AkademikerPension (USD 19bn AuM) said:

‘In our view - and in the view of many other investors - the lobbying work undertaken by Toyota Motor has given the company a global laggard status on climate action within the auto sector. Public statements, increasing pressure on national governments to weaken EV policies and behind the scenes advocacy through business associations has been repeatedly obstructionist towards the bans on cars that are not purely electric. This is jeopardizing Toyota’s valuable brand to the detriment of shareholder interests"

 

Engagement since March 2021
AkademikerPension has been engaging intensively with Toyota since March 2021 leading to Toyota promising to review and change its lobbying practices.

 

Just before New Year’s Eve, Toyota published a report on some of its lobbying activities in the publication “Toyota’s Views on Climate Public Policies 2021”.

However, the report falls short of investor expectations expressed by, for example, the Climate Action 100+ Net Zero Company Benchmark, and more importantly, the company has continued to lobby against climate-related regulation and policies in e.g. the US, UK and France.

Despite improved transparency of the Company, the publication also falls short of disclosures of industry peers to date.

 

Shareholder proposal rejected

In 2021 AkademikerPension withdrew a shareholder proposal before the AGM because Toyota committed to voluntarily review its lobbying practices. This year AkademikerPension went ahead and filed a shareholder resolution for the upcoming AGM. Disappointingly, Toyota rejected the proposal on the grounds that it was sent one day too late for an undisclosed deadline.

 

Anders Schelde said:

“The company had failed to respond adequately to our concerns and rejected our shareholder proposal. What matters now is that the company stops its negative climate lobbying activities. This would be a prudent step to protect the company against consumer backlash and stronger shareholder protest.“

 

Questions submitted to the upcoming AGM 2022

AkademikerPension’s request to deliver a statement at the AGM has been denied by the company, and in light of this, AkademikerPension has instead submitted the following questions in writing to Toyota’s AGM:

 

  • “How does Toyota’s public statements, direct and indirect public policy activities align with the goals of the Paris Agreement of restricting global temperature rise to well-below 2 ⁰C above pre-industrial levels and as close to 1.5 ⁰C as possible?”

  • “Will Toyota management be taking effective steps before next year’s AGM to significantly reduce the current reputational risks related with the company’s public statements and lobbying activities on climate-related public policies?”

 

  • “Can Toyota management commit to refraining from public statements and government lobbying that undermines the transition towards the full electrification of transport on a timeline consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement?”

 

 

Notes:

Timeline – Engagement with Toyota on climate-related lobbying

 

4 March 2021

AkademikerPension commences dialogue with Toyota Motor along with investors AP7, Church of England and Storebrand and AkademikerPension flags intention to file shareholder proposal on climate-related lobbying.

19 April 2021

AkademikerPension withdraws shareholder resolution proposal based on assurances from Toyota that it will review its climate lobbying which it refers to as ‘public policy engagement activities’, following private and public media pressure.

10 May 2021

Shareholders criticize Toyota’s CEO Toyoda in Reuters as he makes negative public statements on climate-related regulation 

Sep-Dec 2021

Engagement continues

16 Nov 2021

The draft is shared in a meeting between Toyota and the investor group. Our views are shared with the company also followed up with an email particularly focusing on room for improvement.

28 Dec 2021

The report “Toyota’s Views on Climate Public Policies 2021” is published.

Q1-Q2 2022

The investor group reconvenes to discuss the quality of the report and deem that it falls short of investor expectations. AkademikerPension prepares and files a shareholder proposal on 20 April 2022 which is rejected by Toyota as it arrived one day too late for an undisclosed deadline.

 

 

The rejected shareholder proposal

Partial amendment to the Articles of Incorporation

 

  1. Details of the proposal

It is proposed that the following provision be added to the Articles of Incorporation.

The Company shall conduct an annual evaluation and issue a report (at reasonable cost, omitting proprietary information) describing if, and how, the Company’s lobbying activities (direct and through industry associations), including public statements, serve to reduce risks for the Company from climate change and how they align with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the Company’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.  The report should address the planned actions, if any, where the report identifies misalignment with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the Company’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. 

 

  1. Reason for the proposal

The new provision in the Articles of Incorporation is intended to ensure that the Company makes robust disclosures, as part of its annual reporting, of (i) which lobbying activities directed at the issue of climate change the group companies are pursuing (whether through directly influencing the political process or through public influence activities), and (ii) the extent to which these serve to reduce risks for the group companies from climate change and how they contribute to the fulfilment of the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement of 12 December 2015.

We recognise and appreciate that the Company has already issued its first report on climate lobbying in December 2021 - “Toyota’s Views on Climate Public Policies 2021[1]  However, the report falls short of investor expectations expressed by, for example, the Climate Action 100+ Net Zero Company Bechmark assessment published in March 2022 on information disclosed as of 31 December 2021[2] and Institutional Investor Group on Climate Change. Despite improved transparency of the Company, the publication also falls short of disclosures of industry peers to date[3].

We find that the Company and shareholders alike could benefit from a strengthening of the Company’s disclosures in scope and rigor, and seek to support such strengthening by proposing an adjustment to the Company’s Articles of Incorporation to introduce annual reporting on a material topic to the Company, shareholders and wider stakeholder groups in line with global investor expectations.

 

[1] “Toyota’s Views on Climate Public Policies” (28 December 2021): https://global.toyota/pages/global_toyota/sustainability/esg/environmental/climate_public_policies_en.pdf

[2] CA100+ Benchmark assessment (published in March 2022) on information disclosed as of 31 December 2021: https://www.climateaction100.org/company/toyota-motor-corporation/

[3] https://influencemap.org/EN/report/-d1b6c36cf7701be308412ef034688cc2-17429

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