Winds of change blast through energy company AGMs
There are fewer places for oil and gas companies to hide on climate change thanks to a ground-breaking shareholder revolt at the Woodside Petroleum’s AGM this April.
More than half of investors voted for a series of resolutions, that LAPFF recommended members support, demanding Woodside bring its strategy and carbon emissions into line with the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The motions, brought by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), demand Woodside set emission targets for its own operations and those of its global power plant customers in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Investors also voted for greater transparency into how Woodside’s remuneration policy incentivised progress against the Paris Accord targets, and whether the company’s future investments in gas expansion contravened goals to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius.
A further resolution demanding Woodside reveal its membership of lobbying groups so investors could assess if they are at odds with the Paris Agreement received 42% of the vote.
The result was a blow for the Woodside board which had urged investors to vote against the resolutions, claiming the company was committed to net zero emissions by 2050, and reiterating support for the Paris Agreement.
Given the similar stance taken by shareholders at the Santos AGM also held in April and supported by LAPFF, the results at Woodside will have far reaching consequences for the fuel and energy sectors, which are also grappling with severe hits to revenues following the Covid-19 pandemic.
This June, BP announced a $17.5bn write-off in oil and gas assets predicting an increased move away from fossil fuels and a sustained reduction in energy consumption because of the coronavirus lockdown.
Cllr Doug McMurdo, Chair of Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, said: “The devastating impact of Covid-19 cannot be underestimated but we have made clear how critical we consider the Paris agreement on climate change. We continue to pressure companies that we believe are not taking this issue seriously.”