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ABP abstains from voting on climate resolution at Shell AGM

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The €408bn Dutch civil service scheme ABP has abstained from voting on a climate resolution at Shell’s annual shareholder meeting.

The resolution was tabled by pressure group Follow This, and ultimately received the support of 5.5% of shareholder votes cast. ABP has a €633m stake in the oil company.

At Shell’s AGM, the scheme explained that requiring a single company to set quantitative targets for 2050 “would open the risk of non-commercial investments, which goes against the interests of our 4.5m participants”.

However, ABP’s spokesman noted that Shell should show serious commitment to reducing carbon emissions, and asked the company to reflect its commitment in its long-term incentive plan.

“This would protect us from the risk of Shell’s target fading over time,” the spokesman said.

In a separate statement, Corien Wortmann, ABP’s chair, urged Shell to start judging its senior management on their results in meeting climate targets.

ABP set a target of a 25% carbon reduction in 2020 relative to 2014 by companies in which it has invested. Recently, it said its carbon footprint had already been reduced by 28%.

The €46bn Dutch metal scheme PME announced prior to the meeting that it would vote in favour of the motion. According to Eric Uijen, chairman of the scheme’s executive board, Shell’s current plan to achieve its climate goals included too much risk.

Detailhandel, the €20bn Dutch pension fund for the retail sector, also said it would support the resolution, and that it would also reduce its stake in the energy giant.

Dutch insurer and asset manager Aegon also supported the motion from Follow This.

Follow This asked Shell to take leadership in the wider effort to reach a net zero emission energy system in 2050 through setting “clear and inspirational” targets aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees centigrade.

These targets needed to cover both the greenhouse gas emissions of Shell’s operations as well as the use of its energy products through intermediate and long-term objectives, according to the pressure group.

Its resolution also requested annual reporting including information about plans and progress.

Follow This argued that institutional investors needled transparency about long-term targets in order to mitigate climate risk to comply with their fiduciary duty.

It raised the issue at Shell’s AGM for the third consecutive year. In order to get accepted and implemented, the resolution had to be supported by 75% of the shareholders. 

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