Shell urges shareholders to accept climate change resolution at AGM

30th January 2015

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Lorraine Young

Oil and gas business Shell has written to shareholders to recommend they support a resolution at its AGM requiring more transparent reporting on its exposure to climate change.

Over 145 investors, including the Environment Agency, local authorities in the UK and US and the Church of England filed the resolution, which was coordinated by lawyers at ClientEarth, with support from investment NGO ShareAction and the Aiming for A Coalition, which includes investors brought together by investment management firm CCLA.

The resolution asks Shell to report on: its ongoing operational emissions management; the resilience of its assets to post-2035 climate and energy scenarios outlined by the International Energy Agency; its low-carbon energy investment and research and development strategies; the incentive schemes for its executives; and its position on public climate change policies. This information should be given in routine annual reporting from 2016, it demands.

Shell’s letter states: “Shell’s board has given consideration to the resolution and has decided to recommend that shareholders support the resolution at the AGM.”

Elspeth Owens, a barrister at ClientEarth, said: “This is a huge victory for our co-filers and the climate which demonstrates the power of positive shareholder engagement. The vast majority of Shell shareholders are now likely to vote in support of the resolution.”

Shell’s AGM takes place in May.

An identical resolution was sent to BP this month, but it has yet to respond.

Meanwhile, investment experts at the Carbon Tracker Initiative (CTI) have published a report in response to statements by the oil and gas industry association, IPIECA, and energy analysts at IHS Herold about fossil fuel companies’ exposure to climate change risks.

These concluded that global action on carbon emissions is unlikely to change demand for fossil fuels over the next 10–15 years, and that proven reserves are therefore at little risk from policy changes.

But the CTI believes these reports reflect complacency in the industry about the future of oil and gas, arguing that the greatest threat to the industry comes from oil price changes impacting the cash flows coming from proven reserves.

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