December 21, 2016 / 10:19 PM / 9 months ago

Activist investor ramps up pressure on Shell to act on climate change

Logos of Shell is pictured at a gas station in the western Canakkale province, Turkey April 25, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

London (Reuters) - Oil major Royal Dutch Shell is facing rising pressure from shareholders to shield its business from climate change threats and to play a bigger role in lowering global carbon emissions.

Activist shareholder group Follow This, representing some of Shell’s retail shareholders, will put forward a resolution at next year’s annual shareholder meeting requesting Shell to set targets for annual greenhouse gas emissions reductions, its founder told Reuters.

“We have talked to a lot of the major shareholders and they gave us input for the resolution. We have good hope that there will be large shareholders who will support this before the AGM,” said Mark van Baal.

Follow This found little support for its resolution to invest fossil fuel profits in renewable energy at this year’s annual general meeting in May, with only 3 percent of shareholders backing it, but the momentum to act on climate issues has grown since.

The Group of 20 leading economies last week asked companies to disclose how they manage climate change risks as concerns are growing among investors that assets are being mispriced because the full extent of climate risk is not being factored in.

Some large investors have ramped up pressure on companies to better mitigate climate risks, and many lenders have pulled out of funding carbon-intensive projects such as coal plants.

In the United States activist shareholders plan a record number of climate-related resolutions in 2017.

Follow This will propose that Shell set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 2050 and that it report annually on the progress.

“Shell’s financial results greatly depend on the price of oil. Diversification of the energy system could turn out to be an opportunity to decrease risks and create the cash engines of the future,” the group said in its resolution proposal.

Dutch pension fund and top 40 Shell shareholder PGGM said earlier this year it endorsed the demand by Follow This for Shell to show more leadership in developing green energy. The fund declined to comment on its voting intentions for next year’s resolution.

Shell has already responded to some of the pressure. Chief Executive Ben van Beurden told Reuters earlier this month that 10 percent of Shell’s executives’ bonus payments will be linked to greenhouse gas management from next year.

The oil major will also look more closely at potential carbon emissions when deciding which projects to invest in, van Beurden said.

Reporting by Karolin Schaps; Additional reporting by Thomas Escritt in Amsterdam; Editing by Leslie Adler

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