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Walking the Walk: UK votes for Paris at Big Oil

An analysis of the votes and rationales of the ten largest UK asset managers on climate resolutions at Big Oil

 

On the eve of the 2023 annual general meeting (AGM) season at Big Oil, this analysis examines how the ten largest UK asset managers used their voting power as shareholders to drive change at oil and gas companies in 2022; the analysis reports on key findings, recommendations, and expectations for 2023. 

Summary of key findings 

Top 10 UK asset manager votes 

  • In 2022, the ten largest UK asset managers express overwhelming support for Paris aligned emission reduction targets at Oil Majors 
  • Consistent votes in favor of the Follow This resolutions at US companies; modest support for Paris aligned emission reduction targets at Shell and BP 
  • Top 10 UK asset managers support for the Follow This climate resolutions continued to increase support over the course of 2017-2022 
  • There exists a dichotomy in top 4 largest UK asset managers in climate voting at Shell and BP 
  • Say on Climate resolutions at BP and Shell lead to confusing voting outcomes and allow companies to claim overwhelming shareholder support for insufficient strategies 

Top 10 UK asset manager rationales 

  • The voting rationales of the UK’s ten largest asset managers reflect that none of the asset managers believe Shell and BP’s strategies are Paris aligned despite the companies’ claims that they are. 
  • Investors focused on engagement reward incremental progress by ‘industry leading’ companies 
  • UK asset managers do not find Scope 3 conceptually problematic nor a request for Scope 3 emission reductions at oil and gas too prescriptive 
  • Shell and BP misuse the concept of in-house Say on Climate resolutions to get rubberstamp approval from shareholders for insufficient climate strategies 

Recommendations 

Shareholders need to use the full extent of their rights to incentivize oil and gas companies to act in the long-term best interest of their shareholders and the global economy. In order for investors to better drive change on a company level, it is recommended that asset managers: 

  • Explicitly commit to voting for non-prescriptive shareholder resolutions that request emission reduction targets in line with Paris  
  • Align stewardship policies to reflect voting for shareholder resolutions not as an escalation but as a necessary addition to engagement to hold corporations accountable 
  • Vote against management Say on Climate resolutions when the company is not in line with Paris. 
  • Improve transparency on proxy voting by publishing voting policies, voting records, and voting rationales in a manner that is timely and user-friendly. 
  • Timely pre-declaration of voting intentions for non-prescriptive climate resolutions at Big Oil 
  • For CA100+ company leads; flag resolutions through the CA100+ process by timely pre-declaration of your vote 
  • Escalate at Oil and Gas companies failing to make progress using tools focused on decarbonizing your portfolio and the world economy such as co-filing resolutions, voting against directors, auditors, shareholder litigation. 
  • Assess company emission reduction targets on their quality, not their relative performance. 

Contact for inquiries 

 

Jesper Vaarwerk – [email protected] 

Harlee Richards – [email protected] 

Mark van Baal – [email protected]