May 21, 2019 / 10:39 AM / 4 months ago

BP faces climate protests at investor meeting, Shell gets boost

ABERDEEN, Scotland (Reuters) - Activists disrupted BP’s annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday shouting “this is a crime scene” in the latest climate protest against the oil and gas group, while rival Royal Dutch Shell got some rare praise from investors on its emissions policies.

Both oil giants have been working with shareholders in recent years to try to define a path toward meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement to limit global warming. U.S. rivals Exxon Mobil and Chevron are also under pressure from investors, but have so far not committed to any targets.

Two women protesters inside BP’s annual general meeting (AGM) in Aberdeen, Scotland, were carried out by security staff, while others turned on an alarm during BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley’s speech as activists complained the UK-based group was not doing enough to battle global warming.

The action came a day after Greenpeace protesters blockaded the entrance to BP’s London headquarters, demanding it end all new oil and gas exploration.

BP agreed in February with a group of shareholders known as Climate Action 100+ on a resolution to increase transparency around carbon emissions, set targets to reduce emissions from its operations and link them to executive pay. That resolution won overwhelming shareholder support at the AGM.

But after BP’s overall carbon emissions rose in 2018 to their highest in six years, shareholders also pushed it to do more and follow Shell by imposing stricter emissions limits.

Outside the AGM, several dozen people held placards reading “BP climate criminals” and “climate emergency.” Around 20 environmental activists also gathered outside Shell’s AGM in The Hague.

BP Chairman Helge Lund said the company would transition toward cleaner energy, while remaining an attractive investment proposition. “The world needs more energy but it needs energy that is cleaner, better and kinder to the planet,” Lund said.

Climate change activists demonstrate outside the BP AGM in Aberdeen, Britain May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Meanwhile, Shell was commended by some of its shareholders for setting sector-leading climate policies last year.

They include reducing so-called Scope 3 emissions from fuels sold to customers around the world in addition to emissions from the company’s own operations.

Adam Matthews, director of ethics and engagement for the Church of England Pensions Board who has represented shareholders in climate talks with Shell, said the group’s strategy was an example to other energy companies.

“(I) suggest that a joint message is sent from this AGM to others within the (oil and gas) sector and to investors that have yet to embrace an approach that addresses the vast majority of the impact on society and the climate by the setting of targets covering scope 3 emissions,” Matthews said.

While BP shareholders also praised BP for supporting the climate resolutions, some want it lay out stricter targets to include Scope 3 emissions, which are several times larger than emissions from BP’s own operations.

“We need to be much more ambitious, not less, in how we tackle the biggest contributor to the emissions our company makes,” Tracy Rembert, director of Catholic Responsible Investing (CBIS), told the AGM.

Lund said BP could not set targets for emissions that were not under its control. Dudley has repeatedly opposed setting Scope 3 reduction targets for that reason.

The founder of shareholder activist group Follow This, Mark van Baal, told the AGM that setting targets without including Scope 3 emissions was like saying “we smoke less but sell more cigarettes”.

Slideshow (4 Images)

However, a resolution filed by Follow This won just 8.35% of votes at the meeting, while the one backed by the board won 99.14% support.

“There was fantastic support for the resolution and this is just the beginning,” said Victoria Barron of Newton Investment Management, who helped with the drafting of the Climate Action 100+ resolution.

BP has said it aims to keep emissions from its operations flat in the decade to 2025 and invests about $500 million a year on low carbon energy and technologies such as wind and solar.

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