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Shell’s Climate Action: A Comedy of Errors

Posted by John Donovan: 2 May 2024

In a truly laughable turn of events, big investors in Shell are urging their fellow shareholders to support greater climate action. Because nothing says “let’s save the planet” like being one of the world’s largest fossil fuel producers, right?

These investors, including the likes of Amundi and Axa Investment Managers, are collectively clutching about 2.5 percent of Shell’s shares and have filed a resolution calling on the company to align its greenhouse gas emissions targets with the Paris Agreement. Because apparently, Shell’s current “targets and ambitions” – you know, the ones that conveniently ignore the impending climate catastrophe – just aren’t cutting it.

Shell, however, seems to think otherwise. They’ve recommended shareholders vote against the resolution, arguing that their current goals are perfectly adequate. Ah, yes, because we all know that half-hearted attempts to address climate change are exactly what the planet needs right now.

But fear not, dear investors, for these climate-conscious crusaders are not backing down. In a letter dripping with sarcasm and frustration, they’ve warned that meeting the Paris goals is “essential to preserve the health of the global economy.” Because apparently, Shell needs reminding that there won’t be much of an economy left if we’re all underwater.

And let’s not forget Shell’s recent backtracking on climate targets, courtesy of CEO Wael Sawan. Instead of cutting oil production like a responsible corporation, Shell has decided to double down on its commitment to oil and gas extraction. Because who needs clean air and water when there are profits to be made, right?

Oh, but don’t worry, Shell has set some ambitious targets of their own. They aim to cut emissions from their own operations by 50 percent by 2030 and reduce scope 3 emissions – you know, the ones from the oil products they sell – by a whopping 15-20 percent. Because nothing says “commitment to the environment” like setting vague targets that conveniently ignore the bulk of your emissions.

But wait, it gets better. Despite Shell’s claims that their targets are in line with the Paris Agreement, these investors aren’t buying it. They argue that Shell’s assertion is “unfounded” and that the company’s directors would have supported the resolution if that were the case. Talk about a reality check.

In a surprising twist, influential proxy adviser Glass Lewis has actually sided with Shell, recommending shareholders vote against the climate resolution. Because apparently, Shell’s extensive disclosure on their environmental impact is enough to earn them a free pass. Who knew?

As the showdown at Shell’s annual meeting looms closer, one thing is clear: this is a comedy of errors that would make even the most seasoned environmentalist cringe. So grab your popcorn, folks, because this is one corporate circus you won’t want to miss.

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