A filing by a group of seven shareholders said that while Volkswagen does disclose its trade association memberships, it should go further and say whether the associations’ aims are compatible with its emissions-cutting targets.
Fellow carmakers Mercedes-Benz and BMW have already committed to doing that.
“The Board is failing to deliver transparent oversight of the company’s climate lobbying,” said Charlotta Sydstrand, sustainability strategist at Swedish pension scheme AP7, one of the shareholders involved in the proposal.
Her comments were included in a statement issued by the Church of England Pensions group, which also backed the filing.
The statement said Volkswagen had rejected the proposal on the grounds that the issue was deemed to be beyond the competence of the general meeting.
Volkswagen was not immediately available for comment.
Other supporters of the proposal included Britain’s biggest listed asset manager Schroders and a range of Swedish pension funds.
Pressure by investors on climate-related issues is growing rapidly.
Last week, 34 investors managing more than $7 trillion in assets warned 17 of Europe’s largest companies, including Volkswagen, they could challenge board directors over their accounting of climate risks.