Dutch investors split on climate change resolution at Shell AGM
The €389bn civil service scheme ABP and asset managers PGGM and MN have all voted differently on a shareholder resolution calling on energy giant Shell to set concrete targets for carbon reduction.
In the motion, tabled during Shell’s annual general meeting this week, sustainability activists demanded a target that would contribute to keeping the worldwide temperature rise under 2° Celsius.
Shell had advised against adopting the resolution, which was ultimately supported by just 6.3% of its shareholders.
ABP said it had voted against, as the motion also demanded that Shell set reduction targets for its customers. In the opinion of ABP, the firm could not be held to account for this.
Ben van Beurden, Shell’s chief executive, explained that the company could only achieve the customer-related goal by selling less, which would weaken its competitive position.
For this reason, asset manager Robeco also voted against the resolution.
Clarifying its position, ABP said it had asked Shell to play an active role in the worldwide transition to a low-carbon energy system.
Both PGGM, the €206bn asset manager for the healthcare scheme PFZW, and the €19bn pension fund for the retail sector (Detailhandel) abstained from voting.
Both said they supported the intention of the resolution, but deemed it impossible to implement. PGGM added that it had still urged Shell top adopt concrete goals for carbon reduction.
Detailhandel called for co-operation between the energy company and the Institutional Investor Group on Climate Change, in order to set up a solid sustainability plan to increase support.
Large insurer Aegon also abstained from voting.
MN, the €115bn asset manager for the metal schemes PME and PMT, didn’t share the objections.
“We acknowledge the technical challenges involved, but think that the motion offers sufficient flexibility to achieve ‘intelligent’ targets,” it commented.
Last year, campaign group Follow This asked for Shell to cease oil and gas exploration and demanded a fully sustainable energy system as of 2030, but it gained the support of just 2.7% of shareholders.
At the time, PGGM, APG – ABP’s asset manager – and MN voted against the motion.