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Charities to lobby BP and Shell on environmental practices


Vibeka Mair | 22 Feb 2010

Campaigning charities FairPensions and WWF have joined a coalition which is lobbying oil giants BP and Royal Dutch Shell over their investments in environmentally controversial oil sands developments.

The coalition, which also includes Unison, Greenpeace and the Co-operative banking group, is asking pension scheme members to email their fund managers to push them to support shareholder resolutions against oil sand projects that are due to be voted on at BP and Shell’s annual general meetings this spring.

It follows the coalition’s successful effort in encouraging over 200 shareholders in BP and Shell to bring the resolution on oil sand projects to the AGMs. Investors sponsoring the resolution included faith groups and charitable foundations, according to a spokesman.

Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, which as of 10 February had £967,457 invested in BP ordinary shares and £206,879 in Royal Dutch Shell ordinary shares, has sponsored the resolution and plans to vote for the resolution on tar sand deposits.

A Joseph Rowntree spokeswoman said: “Like other responsible shareholders we are concerned, for a number of reasons, that these investments could become not only unprofitable but also stranded assets.  We are therefore asking the companies to keep us informed.”

The size of tar sand deposits, combined with unusually high greenhouse gas emissions, means that they threaten to be a major contributor to climate change.

Investors and industry analysts increasingly raise concerns about the long-term profitability of tar sands, specifically pointing to very high operating costs, expected carbon price rises, oil price volatility, expected fluctuations in demand, regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, and the legal and reputational risks arising from environmental damage and human rights cases.

The Joseph Rowntree Trust last week sold its £1.9m stake in FTSE100 mining company Vedanta because the company had refused to act on its concerns about human rights and environmental abuses.

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