Britain’s largest shareholder advisory groups have called on investors in Royal Dutch Shell to reject growing demands for the oil giant to take full responsibility for its impact on the environment.
Shell faces a binding shareholder vote tomorrow to decide whether to adopt rigorous accountability standards to bring its operations into line with the Paris climate agreement. Glass Lewis and ISS have urged shareholders to reject the “unduly burdensome” and “problematic” proposal.
Environmental activists want wider greenhouse gas emissions standards that factor in emissions from Shell’s customers as they use the company’s petrol, fuels and chemicals. Glass Lewis said: “We do not believe that the company should be directed by shareholders to establish goals for activities outside of its own organisation that it has no ability to direct or control.”
The stand-off between the Shell board and green groups threatens to turn into a legal battle. Friends of the Earth has threatened to file a lawsuit in the Netherlands if Shell fails to commit to fall into line with the Paris accord at its AGM in The Hague this week.
Glass Lewis said it recognises that Shell faces significant risks as a result of increased regulation and public scrutiny on account of climate change.
“However, it also appears that the company has taken significant steps to manage those risks,” it said. “The company provides voluminous disclosure concerning the initiatives it has undertaken in order to mitigate climate change-related risks.”
These goals include reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its energy products – its own emissions as well as those of customers – by 20pc by 2035 and around 50pc by 2050.
Climate change concerns are also set to dominate BP’s AGM today after campaigners accused the company of trying to dodge shareholder activism by holding its meeting the day before Shell’s, and in Manchester.
It will be the first time in the group’s history that its AGM takes place outside London. Activists believe the move intentionally makes it harder to attend both the BP and Shell events