With regard to Agenda Item 2: Ratification of the actions of the members of the Board of Management
The Association of Ethical Shareholders Germany moves that the actions of the members of the Board of Management not be ratified.
The Board of Management of Bayer AG is not sufficiently fulfilling its responsibility to implement more effective climate protection measures and transparently comply with duty of care responsibilities with regard to human rights.
Climate protection challenges postponed for 10 years
It is commendable that Bayer has finally presented a plan for reducing its own direct greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 1 and 2) that appears to be compatible with the 1.5 degree goal of the Paris Climate Agreement. Yet Bayer itself acknowledges that 88 percent of climate-damaging emissions result from its own value chain (Scope 3). In 2020, the figure totaled nearly nine million metric tons of CO2 equivalents. Although Bayer is targeting a goal of net zero emissions overall by 2050, it intends for Scope 3 emissions to be reduced only by a shockingly low 12.3 percent by 2030. Bayer is thus postponing its own responsibility to take action and face this challenge until the 2030s and 2040s. It remains unclear what exact steps Bayer intends to take to achieve a climate-neutral carbon footprint by 2050.
Hardly any real CO2 reduction
However, to ensure effective climate protection and in view of further increasing CO2 emissions worldwide, it is important that these emissions be drastically reduced already this decade. Yet Bayer is hardly making any progress with actual CO2 reduction, and that applies above all to its own emissions (Scope 1 and 2), which hardly declined at all between 2019 and 2020. Indeed, specific greenhouse gas emissions even rose slightly to 86.55 kg CO2e / € thousand external sales.
Child labor, impermissible overtime and no minimum wage: room for improvement in supply chain monitoring
Out of a total of 701 audits of its suppliers undertaken on Bayer’s behalf in 2020 as part of a human rights risk analysis, only just over half showed better results. Bayer at least is now somewhat more transparent concerning its own duty of care responsibilities with regard to human rights and summarizes some of the critical results of audits carried out on its suppliers. According to this summary, violations of applicable worktime regulations and statutory minimum wages were identified in 2020, and 14 cases of child labor among seed producers in India were also uncovered. It is good that Bayer claims to not only want to end child labor cases but also continues to actively implement measures together with those affected and create incentives for suppliers to comply with the ban on child labor.
Yet Bayer itself does not seem to trust its own risk analyses it has employed so far to fully register these and other serious human rights violations. The company therefore commissioned an external audit of its own human rights risks. However, the results of that audit do not yet seem to be available. Bayer would be well served to revise its own risk analyses; after all, beginning in 2023 the company will also have to satisfy the requirements of the supply chain law passed by the German cabinet. Bayer could face fines or even exclusion from the awarding of public contracts should the company prove inadequately capable of identifying and proactively reducing human rights violations in its own supply chains.
Double standards as regards the sale of pesticides
Bayer markets very dangerous pesticides in Southern Hemisphere countries that are not approved in the E.U. The fact that nearly all deaths resulting from pesticide poisoning occur in Africa, Asia and Latin America is partly due to Bayer’s acceptance of lower health protection standards. Bayer must finally introduce uniform global health protection standards and remove highly dangerous pesticides from its global product range of its own volition.
Even as regards pesticides that are not considered highly dangerous, Bayer must urgently undertake greater efforts to ensure that such products are correctly used in practice. Plantation workers and farmers often use pesticides without the necessary training activities, precautionary measures and protective clothing, and thus needlessly jeopardize their health.