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Church of England investors file shareholder resolutions at BP and Shell

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 20.55.28The Church Commissioners and Church of England Pensions Board have announced this week that they are in the process of co-filing shareholder resolutions on climate change at the AGMs of two of world’s biggest oil and gas companies – BP and Shell.

Church investors file shareholder resolutions at BP and Shell

By Edward Mason, Church Commissioners Head of Responsible Investment

The Church Commissioners and Church of England Pensions Board have announced this week that they are in the process of co-filing shareholder resolutions on climate change at the AGMs of two of world’s biggest oil and gas companies – BP and Shell. This is one of the ways in which the Church of England’s national investing bodies are deepening and strengthening their engagement with the businesses in which they invest on the ethical issues that are of the greatest importance to the Church.

It is clear from the latest assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released this year, that the world is on a path towards dangerous climate change. It is imperative that over the decades ahead we make the transition to a low carbon economy.

As shareholders Church investors have a vital opportunity to influence the strategy on climate change of the companies whose shares we own. That’s why the largest members of the Church Investors Group – whose members have investments of £15 billion – helped to establish a major new investor initiative to engage on climate change with the 10 largest extractives and utilities companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. Every year the performance of global companies on climate change is rated by an NGO we support, CDP (www.cdp.net). CDP’s highest rating is an A rating. We call our initiative ‘Aiming for A’ because we want to see all ten of these companies achieve CDP A ratings. The initiative is led by CCLA Investment Management, the specialist church and charity fund managers who manage over £1.5bn of Church of England money in the CBF Church of England funds. The investor coalition also includes the £150bn Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) and Rathbone Greenbank, the ethical fund manager.

The intiative has already had a significant impact on the performance of the 10 companies on climate change. When we started engaging in 2012 only one of the companies was rated A. Five were rated B, four C and one E (there were 11 companies then, but two of them have since merged). Now all of the 10 companies with whom we are engaging have A or B ratings.

We have chosen to file shareholder resolutions at BP and Shell because they have the biggest carbon footprints of all the companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, and they are yet to achieve A ratings (they are both rated B). Of course oil and gas companies have a particular responsibility because the fuels they produce contribute to climate change when they are burned.

The shareholder resolutions are intended to challenge the companies to run their businesses so that they participate constructively in the transition to a low carbon economy. The resolutions are supportive, but stretching. The idea is to give all of the shareholders of both companies the opportunity to signal that, like us, they want to see BP an Shell adapt their businesses over the long term for a low carbon economy. We want the companies to be sustainably profitable. We hope that a large proportion of other shareholders will agree when it comes to the vote at the BP and Shell AGMs next spring.

Edward Mason, Church Commissioners Head of Responsible Investment

BP: April 2015 AGM

Special resolution – strategic resilience for 2035 and beyond

That in order to address our interest in the longer term success of the Company, given the recognised risks and opportunities associated with climate change, we as shareholders of the Company direct that routine annual reporting from 2016 includes further information about: ongoing operational emissions management; asset portfolio resilience to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) scenarios; low-carbon energy research and development (R&D) and investment strategies; relevant strategic key performance indicators (KPIs) and executive incentives; and public policy positions relating to climate change. This additional ongoing annual reporting could build on the disclosures already made to CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) and/or those already made within the Company’s Energy Outlook, Sustainability Review and Annual Report.

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The initiative is lead by CCLA Investment Management, which manages over 1.5 billion pounds ($2.35 billion) of Church of England money in the CBF Church of England funds.

Shell said it was aware of the resolution but did not want to comment further. BP was not immediately available.

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