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Shell, Statoil investors vote for climate change disclosure

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Shareholders at yesterday’s annual general meetings (AGMs) of oil companies Royal Dutch Shell and Statoil have voted overwhelmingly for resolutions calling for greater disclosure on performance related to climate change.

The two identical resolutions – “Strategic resilience for 2035 and beyond” – provide for additional transparency around operational emissions management, asset portfolio resilience against 2035 scenarios, low-carbon energy R&D and investment, executive performance indicators and public policy positions relating to climate change.

Support was 98.9% of votes cast at the Shell AGM, and 99.95% at Statoil’s meeting.

The boards of both companies previously recommended that shareholders back the resolutions.

The resolution at Shell’s AGM was driven by the £170bn (€236bn) Aiming for A investor coalition, led by charity fund manager CCLA, and includes the LAPFF and church investment bodies such as the Church of England Pension Board and the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church.

Other co-filers included European pension funds such as Ilmarinen and Swedish buffer funds AP2, AP3 and AP4, while investors such as Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global and the UK’s Wellcome Trust publicly gave their support. 

A similar climate change resolution, proposed by the same co-filers, was overwhelmingly passed at BP’s AGM last month.

Helen Wildsmith, head of ethical and responsible investment at CCLA, who convened the Aiming for A coalition, said: “What we’ve experienced with BP and Shell indicates that supportive but stretching shareholder resolutions can play a positive stewardship role by amplifying the voice of long-term investors.

“They focus attention on an increasingly complex capital-allocation challenge for energy company leaders, their investors and policymakers.

“I suspect board-supported shareholder resolutions on climate change will become a global phenomenon during the critical 2016-20 policymaking window, given the need for cross-sectoral collaboration in the wake of the climate negotiations in Paris.”

However, at the AGM, board members faced a welter of criticism aimed at Shell’s controversial plans to start drilling off the shores of Alaska.

ABP, the Dutch pension fund for civil servants, said it opposed the company’s plans, not only for environmental reasons but also because of the investment risks.

Meanwhile, Swedish buffer fund AP2 welcomed the vote in favour of the climate change resolution at Statoil’s AGM, which it co-filed with the AP4 buffer fund.

Ulrika Danielson, head of communications at AP2, said: “We are very pleased the resolution was supported by 99.95% at the AGM.

“Since oil-related energy companies have challenges ahead in terms of both financial and environmental issues, we see this resolution as a good tool to help Statoil to strengthen its reporting on climate change issues.”

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