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BP shareholder Resolution 25 passed at AGM in oil industry ‘game changer’

May 2015

Shareholders at oil giant’s BP annual general meeting (AGM) held on 16 April at London’s ExCel Centre passed by an overwhelming majority Resolution 25 - a special resolution tabled by a coalition of around 100 institutional investors - through the efforts of the ‘Aiming for A’ coalition and ShareAction, a group promoting responsible investment. The resolution encouraged BP to participate constructively in the transition to a low carbon economy.

Paul Dickinson, Chairman of CDP (www.cdp.net), formerly Carbon Disclosure Project, an international organization providing a global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share vital environmental information, commenting after the vote said: “This is a game changing day. The way that BP’s management and shareholders have come together to pass a resolution of this kind is unprecedented.”

He added: “It represents a major change in attitude in one of the biggest companies on the FTSE 100, with one of the highest carbon footprints - a recognition that major commitments are needed in order for companies to respond and adapt to the climate change challenge.” Dickinson said he looked forward to seeing a “similar acknowledgement of climate change risks” at Shell’s AGM this May.

In the lead up to Resolution 25 public support of numerous investors globally was received. They included Swedish investors AP2, AP3, AP4, KPA and Folksam. Elsewhere, Dutch pension fund manager APG, French giants Amundi and BNP Paribas, the Pensions Trust and Kames Capital in the UK, members of the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) as and members of the £15bn Church Investors Group, Wespath in the US, and German fund manager Union Investment all added their support.

The proposal of these resolutions at BP and Royal Dutch Shell’s 2015 AGMs follows a period of active engagement with these companies by ‘Aiming for A’, an organization whose goal is to ask 10 major UK-listed extractives and utilities companies to demonstrate good management of the strategic carbon challenge they face by aiming for continuous inclusion in CDP’s Climate Performance Leadership Index. This requires achieving a CDP ‘A’ performance band.

For the resolution to pass it required 75% approval. As it transpired votes in favour of the resolution accounted for 98.28% (10,811,953.3) with 1.72% (280,020,353) against. The percentage of BP’s issued share capital voted on the resolution was 60.24%.
Broadly speaking Resolution 25 calls for more openness in five areas, including: (1) The company’s on-going operational emissions management; (2) Resilience of the company’s asset portfolio to a fuller range of climate change scenarios, including a 2 degree scenario; and, (3) Plans for low-carbon energy research and development and investment strategies.

Erik Jan Stork, Senior Sustainability Specialist at APG, commenting just prior to the vote said: “APG welcomes BP’s support of this resolution. Structural changes in the energy markets, resulting from policy decisions and technological breakthrough, can alter the long-term outlook for energy companies.”

He added: “We expect BP and other energy companies to take account of these changes in developing their long-term business strategies. For example, by taking IEA’s 450 scenario into account, and by explaining to shareholders how uncertainties are reflected in their investment decisions, capital allocation and governance.”

Elspeth Owens, barrister at environmental law group Client Earth that helped to co-ordinate the filing of the resolutions, noted that: “Pension funds are taking steps to protect their beneficiaries from climate change risk and this bodes well for the future of climate stewardship.” 




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