Pension funds slam Toyota for anti-green lobbying

Pension funds in Denmark and New York on Wednesday expressed their displeasure with Toyota Motor Co. over what they see as lobbying activity that is slowing a green transition.

“We are extremely concerned that Toyota’s lobbying activities are misaligned with its climate goals and electric vehicle strategy,” said New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, pension systems trustee. of New York City, worth $265.9 billion, in an emailed statement ahead of the automaker’s annual meeting. general meeting of shareholders on Wednesday.

“Toyota’s approach puts it at a competitive disadvantage compared to its peers, who have shown a much greater commitment to the transition to battery electric vehicles. Additionally, Toyota’s opposition to policies strengths in EVs (electric vehicles) and climate create significant reputational risk,” Lander said.

Those concerns are shared by the 134 billion crown ($19 billion) pension fund AkademikerPension, Gentofte, Denmark, whose CIO Anders Schelde was unconvinced by Toyota’s response at the shareholders’ meeting.

“Toyota is using the pretext of customer choices to avoid answering the question about its lobbying activities around the world to slow the transition to fossil fuel-free cars. Technology is constantly changing, but companies should not go to against regulations that seek to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles,” Schelde said in a statement emailed after the meeting.

“When Toyota defends its lobbying against government action to phase out fossil fuel cars, it echoes tobacco companies defending their product against regulation. As investors, we expect more in 2022 in the context of the climate crisis that threatens to limit much more than customer choice in the not-too-distant future,” Schelde said.

AkademikerPension withdrew a shareholder proposal in 2021 after Toyota pledged to review its climate-related lobbying practices. Seeing little change a year later, the Danish pension fund prepared a similar one which the company dismissed as filed too late.

Changing lobbying activities with governments trying to phase out internal combustion engine cars “will be a step towards protecting the company from growing consumer mistrust and shareholder protests,” Schelde said. .

A call to Toyota for comment was not returned.