INVESTOR BRIEFING Rise in votes at BP sets direction for CA100+ flagged climate resolution at Shell
The absence of institutional investors was felt during BP’s grim AGM. The only critical supporters of BP on site were Follow This and Rathbones; the remainder of the shareholders in the room were either cheerleaders for BP’s strategy to cling to fossil fuels or opponents of everything BP stands for (and were thrown out); no other institutional investors made a statement or asked a question.
Fortunately, 17 % of shareholders voted in favour of climate resolution 25 at BP (up from 15% in 2022), despite the objection of the CA100+ lead investors LGIM, EOS at Federated Hermes, and Fulcrum who had voted against.
Thankfully, for Shell’s AGM on May 23, the CA100+ lead investors MN and PGGM encourage peers to vote in favour of a similar climate resolution by pre-declaring their votes and flagging the climate resolution in the CA100+ alliance.
PGGM stated, “We believe that the adoption and implementation of this resolution will reduce the risk of stranded assets and/or increase the opportunities afforded by the energy transition.” and “Although Shell is a front-runner among oil and gas companies, there is insufficient evidence that the company’s current strategy is aligned with a 1.5°C warming pathway, which requires a significant decrease in oil and gas production and increase in the supply of low carbon solutions. No independent, third-party source shows that Shell is Paris aligned in 2030.”
We encourage investors to follow their leadership.
If CA100+ members want to leverage the engagement position of their leads at Shell, they will need to vote in favour of Paris-aligned targets; a vote against would undermine their leads’ engagement.
We thank MN and PGGM for their determination to achieve the Paris goals and recognition that engagement and voting are not mutually exclusive (as oil companies frequently claim), but rather reinforce each other.
We thank the Investors that voted in favour of climate resolution 25 at BP; they recognize this vote as the most effective tool to urge BP to drive down emissions by 2030.
When the votes are published, it will be clear which investors have urged BP to improve its climate aims and which investors enable BP to postpone large emission reductions until after 2030.
Clients of institutional investors, such as pension funds, will be watching how their asset managers performed on these votes to gauge their competence as long-term value stewards.
We hope that the investors that missed the opportunity to urge BP to align its 2030 emissions with the Paris Accord, will view the AGMs this month as retakes to correct this oversight.
Please find below more information about the BP AGM and Big Oil’s upcoming AGMs, specifically Shell.
BP’s total Scope 3 emissions by 2030
During the AGM, Follow This asked: Do you really think that BP can be Paris-aligned without reducing BP’s total Scope 3 emissions by 2030?
“We absolutely believe that in totality we are indeed compliant,” [BP’s CEO Bernard] Looney said in response to questions from Follow This, as reported by the Financial Times.
This belief contrasts with the CA100+ Net Zero Company Benchmark (indicator 3.3) that concludes that BP has no emissions reduction targets for 2030 in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.*
Furthermore, BP’s belief contrasts sharply with the board’s formal response that states the resolution (which requests Paris-alignment for 2030) would be disruptive to BP’s current strategy. Follow This recognizes that the resolution may be disruptive to the extent that BP is not Paris aligned in the absence of large-scale emission reductions by 2030.
Follow This responded that BP’s claim of being Paris-aligned was misleading shareholders.
Responsible investors vote in favour of the resolution
Some investors may have viewed BP backtracking on climate ambitions earlier this year as a wakeup call. We commend those investors, such as USS (Universities Superannuation Scheme), for realizing their vote is in the best interest of shareholders. USS changed its vote from ‘against’ in 2022 to ‘in favour of’ the Follow This resolution this year and accompanied 10% of investors who voted against Chairman Helge Lund at the meeting, citing governance reasons.
We thank investors who voted in favour of the resolution and those who have offered their unwavering support over several years for their continued backing.
Climate Action 100+ lead investors undermine their engagement position at BP
In 2022, the CA100+’s (BP) lead investors*, LGIM, EOS at Federated Hermes**, and Fulcrum, voted against the climate resolution at BP. Given that BP does not have Paris-aligned targets for its total emissions by 2030 and even backtracked on its climate aims earlier this year, we expected these lead investors to realize that engagement without voting would be insufficient in 2023.
Unfortunately, voting disclosures have shown that the three lead investors have persisted in their support of BP’s insufficient strategy by voting against the 2023 Follow This resolution at BP. This may undermine their future engagement position and endorse BP’s strategy to postpone overall emissions reductions until after 2030.
CA100+ lead investors ‘flag’ votes at Shell and TotalEnergies
Other investors have decided to use their leading position to make impact. The Follow This climate resolution at Shell was flagged for the first time earlier this week through pre-declarations in favour by lead investors PGGM and MN. The climate resolution at TotalEnergies’ upcoming AGM was also flagged through a public declaration of support by lead investor MN, part of the consortium of 17 institutional investors who filed the resolution alongside Follow This.
CA100+ flags proposals “aligned with the goals of the initiative” and acknowledges them as “a powerful signal and a useful engagement tool”. Flagging allows for more comprehensive and timely consideration of key votes by investors. A recent report by Majority Action confirmed that ‘CA100+ flagging can have a positive impact on important climate votes. Therefore, Follow This encourages CA100+ lead investors at Chevron and ExxonMobil to follow the example of their responsible peers by pre-declaring a vote in favour of the Follow This resolution.
We commend the 17% of BP’s shareholders who realize reducing Scope 3 emissions by 2030 is crucial to mitigate undiversifiable climate risks. Their support, and the pre-declarations by lead investors set the tone for the upcoming AGMs of Shell, TotalEnergies, Chevron and ExxonMobil. We hope that the investors that voted against the resolution at BP, will view these upcoming AGMs as retakes to correct this oversight.
* Climate Action 100+
Climate Action 100+ (CA100+) is the world’s largest investor engagement initiative on climate change. It involves 700 investors, responsible for over $68 trillion in assets under management. Investors are focused on ensuring 166 of the world’s biggest corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters take the necessary actions to align their business strategies with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
CA100+ lead investors
CA100+ lead investors are leading the engagement with specific companies as part of the Climate Action 100+ (CA100+) initiative.
CA100+ Net Zero Company Benchmark
The CA100+ Net Zero Company Benchmark aims to define the key elements of a robust ‘net zero aligned’ business strategy, to give investors’ confidence that companies are developing comprehensive net zero transition plans.
Despite ‘net zero by 2050’ promises, no oil major has emissions reduction targets for 2030 in line with the Paris Climate Agreement, concludes CA100+, the world’s largest alliance of investors, in its Net Zero Company Benchmark (indicator 3.3) for Shell, BP, and other oil majors.
** EOS at Federated Hermes is an investment advisor and a lead investor at BP for the Climate Action 100+. It advised clients to vote against the Follow This climate resolution at BP in 2023.