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Shell AGM: Shareholders Cheer for Profits Over Planet, Reject Climate Resolution Amid Protests

Posted by John Donovan: 21 May 2024

In a shocking display of corporate bravado and environmental disdain, Shell’s shareholders once again proved they couldn’t care less about the planet. At Tuesday’s annual general meeting, they overwhelmingly rejected a climate resolution filed by the activist group Follow This, despite the backdrop of vehement protests.

This climate resolution, mind you, was backed by 27 investors managing a whopping $4 trillion. These forward-thinkers dared to suggest that Shell should align its carbon emissions reduction targets with the Paris Climate Agreement. The nerve! But alas, only 18.6% of the shareholders supported it, a decline from last year’s modest 20%. Apparently, Shell’s board had already made it crystal clear that such eco-friendly suggestions were unwelcome.

Meanwhile, the genius masterminds at Shell, including CEO Wael Sawan, couldn’t contain their glee. “I’m pleased that we have seen the Follow This resolution get an even lower share of the votes compared to previous years. That’s a sign of growing trust and confidence in our ability to navigate the energy transition,” Sawan proclaimed, likely patting himself on the back for maintaining the status quo.

Of course, Shell’s own milquetoast resolution on its climate strategy sailed through with 78.2% support. This strategy, by the way, involves weakening a 2030 carbon reduction target, scrapping a 2035 objective, and continuing to invest heavily in oil and gas. Because nothing says “energy transition” like doubling down on fossil fuels.

The meeting was repeatedly interrupted by climate protesters chanting “Shell kills” and demonstrating outside, highlighting the absurdity of Shell’s so-called “commitment” to the environment. Inside, shareholders grilled the board about the company’s vague energy transition plans, only to receive the usual corporate platitudes in response.

Mark van Baal, the founder of Follow This, hit the nail on the head: “Your board wants to continue with the business model of turning hydrocarbons into petro-dollars … They don’t want to step out of their comfort zone because they don’t know how to make profits with clean energy.” Ouch, the truth hurts.

In a laughable attempt to sound ambitious, Shell announced a new goal to reduce emissions from oil products like gasoline and jet fuel by 15-20% by 2030 compared to 2021 levels. This is supposed to impress us, even though 95% of their greenhouse gas pollution comes from these very end-user emissions, known as Scope 3.

And let’s not forget Shell’s ongoing legal drama. They’re still appealing a 2021 Dutch court ruling that ordered them to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2019 levels. Scientists worldwide have repeatedly stressed the dire need for a 43% reduction by 2030 to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals. But why listen to scientists when there are profits to be made, right?

Chairman Sir Andrew Mackenzie summed up Shell’s position perfectly: “Shell believes continued investment in oil and gas will be needed.” Translation: Screw the planet, we’ve got money to make.

So there you have it, folks. Shell’s AGM was a masterclass in corporate greenwashing, shareholder greed, and environmental apathy. The planet burns, but Shell’s profits soar. What the actual f**k, indeed.

The subject of Shell’s threatened move to a New York listing was raised by many shareholders. Despite  this degree of concern, Sir Andrew claimed that it is not a live issue. 

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