Minority shareholder rebellion urges significant reductions in absolute emissions by 2030.
Investor support for the Follow This climate resolution (21) rose to 30%, more than doubling since 14% of shareholders supported it in 2020, and defying management advice to vote against. The resolution asked, again, for truly Paris Aligned emissions reduction targets, and for Shell to shift its investments towards renewables.
11% voted against Shell’s in-house resolution (20) that asked shareholders’ support for Shell’s ‘new’ Energy Transition Strategy. This rebellion contrasts with 19 other resolutions, where up to 99% of shareholders followed management advice. Under the UK corporate governance code, any shareholder vote above 20% requires the company to go back to investors and discuss their concerns.
“This year for the first time, Shell put forward its own climate plan for a vote – and yet again, shareholders are sending a strong signal that Shell will have to set new targets. Shell’s policy falls short of what is needed to protect investors from devastating climate change,” said Mark van Baal of Follow This.
Dutch institutions take the lead
Dutch pension fund PFZW joined the ranks of large investors in the Netherlands, now eight out of the top 10, that voted in favour of the Follow This climate resolution in earlier years. Their votes have been instrumental to compel Shell to advance its climate ambitions in previous years.
“Shell attempted, for the fifth time since 2016, to convince shareholders to vote against the Follow This climate resolution and against Paris-aligned targets. We know from Shell’s previous response to resolutions, that management cannot ignore investors’ concerns. The company will have to revise its targets once again,” said Van Baal.
Shell’s policy of promises for the distant future has failed to convince investors. Follow This predicted that a growing body of investor opinion will demand emissions targets for the short- and medium-term that are truly Paris-aligned and backed by substantially higher investment in renewables.
Climate resolutions win historic majority in first US vote
Shell’s AGM comes shortly after a historic victory for climate resolutions at two US oil and gas majors. On May 11th, 58% of shareholders in ConocoPhillips voted in favour of the Follow This climate resolution – the first majority vote in any jurisdiction.
The following day, 80% of shareholders in Phillips66 voted for a similar resolution, requesting the companies to set short-, medium- and long-term emissions reduction targets covering all the emissions of their operation and products.
Ceres, co-founder of the Climate Action 100+ alliance of institutional investors in the worlds’ most polluting companies said: “Shareholder proposals at Phillips66 and ConocoPhillips this week sent a clear signal to the oil and gas industry that investors want to see ambitious climate action — and small commitments are no longer enough.”
Read Follow This speech at Shell AMG 2021 (PDF)