The Guardian – Voting at the oil giant’s annual meeting this week could see Follow This activists making trouble over emissions.
Shell is braced for its largest climate rebellion this week as shareholders face the choice between backing the oil giant’s carbon-cutting plans or siding with an activist investor who is calling for tougher emissions targets.
With its annual meeting planned for Tuesday, the Anglo-Dutch company has called on its investors to vote against a shareholder resolution from campaign group Follow This in favour of its own plans to reduce its emissions to “net zero” by 2050.
The milestone battle will take place after BP saw support among its shareholders for the Follow This campaign double in a similar vote last week. The activists were ultimately defeated, but won 21.1% of shareholder support, up from just over 8% when Follow This put forward a resolution in 2019.
At least two major investors, Dutch pension fund Aegon and UK investment firm RWC Partners, are preparing to back Follow This in calling for tougher targets at Shell. British hedge fund billionaire Chris Hohn and the shareholder advisory group Pirc have also urged investors to side with the activist group.
Increasing the proportion of gas to oil in Shell’s portfolio should cut the average emissions of the energy it sells, but Follow This says Shell’s absolute emissions could fall by as little as 10% over the next 10 years. This would see it fall well short of the goals set out in the Paris climate agreement – in which nearly 200 countries have agreed to limit global temperature increases to well below 2C, which is considered crucial to avoid an irreversible climate crisis.
Mark Van Baal, the founder of Amsterdam-based Follow This, said oil companies had put forward “fantastic promises” to become carbon neutral by 2050 but had shown little evidence of plans to reduce emissions over the short and medium term.
He said: “They have a narrative that says ‘we’ll be net zero by 2050 so now give us space to implement a new strategy for the next 10 years.’ But whether these plans will reduce emissions in the near term is unclear.”
Follow This, which represents more than 6,000 shareholders in oil and gas companies, has put forward resolutions for tougher targets at BP, Shell and French oil company Total.