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Leading investors join shareholder activist with climate resolutions at Big Oil

Resolutions focus on Scope 3 emissions reductions in 2030

Leading investors with assets under management of more than € 1.3 trillion* join activist shareholder Follow This in filing climate resolutions at Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, and Chevron. The resolutions (attached) request the oil majors to align their 2030 emissions reduction targets with the Paris Climate Agreement.

“This new and significant commitment from some of the world’s most important investors takes our fight against climate breakdown to a new level,” says Mark van Baal founder of Follow This. “Our call for Paris-aligned targets has landed in the capital markets, in effect moving this crucial issue to centre stage for responsible institutional investors. We expect that more investors will follow their leading peers and vote for change at Big Oil.”

Two new fallacies
“Together with responsible investors, we have to counter Big Oil’s new fallacies. First, that the current energy crisis should eclipse the climate crisis, an argument that – helped by the windfall profits – spurred BlackRock to backtrack on Scope 3 in 2022 #. Second, that the problem is on the demand side**.”

Please read the attached climate resolutions first for all the compelling arguments for investors to vote (and rebuttals of Big Oil’s counter arguments about the climate crisis and demand side).

“We hope that investors will finally realize that Big Oil will hang on to fossil fuels as long as possible, unless they vote in a different direction. We’ve engaged with eleven oil majors since May, and they persist, with no exception, that the majority of their shareholders showed support for their current inadequate strategies by voting against the Follow This resolutions in May.”

Focus on Scope 3 by 2030 to prevent smokescreens 
In 2023, we will narrow the resolutions to focus on Scope 3 by 2030, because large-scale reductions of emissions from fossil fuels in this critical decade are essential to avoid climate breakdown. As the IPCC has stated: “Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach.”

“The focus on Scope 3 by 2030 leaves the oil majors no wiggle room for smokescreens about ‘net zero emissions by 2050’ or reduction targets for operational emissions (Scope 1 and 2, around 5% of emissions).

Targets for 2050 have no consequences for medium-term strategies (see reference to legal disclaimer in the resolution for Shell). Despite ‘net zero by 2050’ targets, none of these four oil majors is even close to Paris-aligned emissions reductions plans for 2030.”

Regain momentum in voting pattern
In the period 2016 to 2021, voting patterns showed exponential growth (see graph below). In 2022, votes decreased after Big Oil managed to convince shareholders that the energy crisis (and accompanying windfall profits) should eclipse the climate crisis. Nonetheless, shareholder rebellions of 15% at BP, 20% at Shell, 28% at ExxonMobil and 33% at Chevron voted in favour of Paris-aligned targets.

“Only when voting regains momentum, oil majors will change. Otherwise, oil majors will continue to claim to have a vast majority of shareholders behind their current inadequate targets. Our campaigns have shown that only increasing investors’ votes compel oil majors to advance their targets.”

In recent years, Shell, BP, Equinor, Chevron, and Phillips66 reluctantly set Scope 3 targets after shareholders voted in favour of the Follow This climate targets resolutions.

Remarks 

  • Resolutions emphasize strengths, opportunities, and risks for integrated energy multinationals alongside the financial imperative to achieve Paris for global investors
  • Follow This focusses on the four of the highest emitters in the world in 2023
  • Resolutions counter Big Oil’s new fallacies that the current energy crisis should eclipse the climate crisis and that investors should engage the demand side
  • Resolutions are tailored per company to avoid BP’s distraction that the resolution is ‘generic’ (Notice of Meeting 2022, page 28)
  • In the case of Shell, the resolution includes proof that Shell itself anticipates no change in absolute Scope 3 emissions by 2030 (Shell’s CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) Climate Change response)

* for 2023, six investors in Europe and the US (managing € 1.3 trillion in total) have co-filed one or more of the four climate resolutions; four of them are Edmond de Rothschild Asset Management (EDRAM, France, managing € 75 billion, co-filed-Shell), Degroof Petercam Asset Management (DPAM, Belgium, € 51 billion, all resolutions), Achmea Investment Management (Netherlands, € 175 billion, ExxonMobil) and Arjuna Capital (US, $400 million, Chevron and ExxonMobil); the others will make public statements later.

(for 2022, Arjuna Capital (managing $400 million, keeping small numbers of shares in oil majors for engagement and filing purposes) co-filed two Follow This resolutions at Chevron and Exxon)

# In 2022, large investors like BlackRock backtracked on Scope 3; in 2021 BlackRock voted in favour of 5 out of 6 Follow This climate resolutions, in 2022 BlackRock voted against the same resolutions, stating it was against Scope 3 targets.

** After increasing shareholder voted for the Follow This climate resolutions, Shell and BP reluctantly set Scope 3 targets for the distant future. After investors started insisting on 2030 Scope 3 targets (rather than accepting ‘net zero by 2050’ promises), Big Oil pushed responsibility back to the demand side.

With best regards on behalf of the Follow This team,  

Mark van Baal +31 6 22 42 45 42

McKenzie Ursch +31 40 16 26 72

Jesper Vaarwerk +31 6 83 13 97 36

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