Church of England Pensions Board (CEPB) is likely to vote in favour of Royal Dutch Shell’s energy transition plan but support resolutions filed by campaign group Follow This at other oil and gas companies “where progress is not so obvious,” the pension fund’s chief responsible investment officer has indicated.
In a statement, Adam Matthews, who is also co-lead on engagement with Shell for the $54trn (€45trn) Climate Action 100+ investor group, said investor engagement had “delivered tangible outcomes and will continue to do so” although there were areas of uncertainty and for improvement, such as the need for further evidence of alignment of capital expenditure.
“As investors we are unquestionably entering a more complex phase in corporate engagement and individually each investor will make a judgement on whether this latest step in Shell’s transition is sufficient,” said Matthews.
He was responding to Shell publishing its energy transition strategy today, asking shareholders to vote for it at the annual general meeting on 18 May. Shell is the first oil and gas company to ask shareholders to vote on its energy transition strategy, a move that it set out in February.
Matthews said CEPB was likely to vote to support Shell’s energy transition plan, “in the context of the progress that Shell has made as a result of engagement and the commitment from the company’s leadership to continue to meaningfully engage on the remaining areas of the Climate Action 100+ benchmark”.
He added that a vote in favour would be contingent on “evidenced progress and recognising that along with other shareholders we have an ongoing opportunity to hold directors to account on the delivery of the plan, to vote on progress on an annual basis, and to vote on future plans”.
According to Matthews, the situation at Shell is unique in that the shareholder resolution put forward by campaign group Follow This has been negated by the company putting a transition plan to the vote that addresses the group’s points, and more.
In the statement, he indicated CEPB was looking to consider voting in support of Follow This’s resolutions at other companies. He told IPE this was especially the case where there was no transition strategy vote “as Shell has been willing to provide following engagement”.
Mark van Baal, of Follow This, said the group would withdraw its resolution and support Shell’s if the company’s emission reduction targets were consistent with the Paris climate change accord, which it does not consider to be the case. Van Baal has argued that votes in favour of shareholder climate resolutions are “the only thing boards listen to”.
Shell said it considers the Follow This resolution to be redundant.