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British investor group backs mandatory climate vote at AGMs

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People take exercise with their pets amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, London, Britain

LONDON (Reuters) - An investor group whose members include BlackRock, Schroders and UBS and which collectively manages more than 20 trillion pounds ($27 trillion) in assets, on Tuesday backed calls for an annual vote on how companies plan to tackle climate change.

The Investor Forum, an influential body which engages with British companies over environmental, social and governance concerns, made the call as Britain prepares to host the next round of global climate talks in Scotland this year.

"In 2021, the focus on how companies and investors can advance the UK's net zero commitments will rise still further," said Andy Griffiths, executive director of the Investor Forum.

An annual non-binding shareholder vote would provide "a powerful investor signal" on which companies were doing well and which were lagging, and help investors take a lead on holding companies to account, the Investor Forum said.

The international talks, known as COP 26, will be a forum for countries to try to agree further efforts to limit global warming. It was postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

United Nations climate envoy Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of England, and a leading group of British pension funds have also given their backing to the principle of an annual vote.

The move by the Investor Forum follows the launch of a global 'Say on Climate' campaign by hedge fund manager Chris Hohn in November.

($1 = 0.7357 pounds)

(Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Alexander Smith)