Germany's RWE to review climate lobbying as investor pressure rises

Protesters of the Fridays for Future movement march through the city of Essen to protest against German utility RWE during the company's annual shareholders meeting in Essen, Germany, May 3, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German utility RWE, under investor pressure as one of Europe’s biggest carbon polluters, said on Friday it would review its lobbying activities to see if they are in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

RWE Chief Executive Rolf Martin Schmitz made the commitment in response to an AGM question from Thomas Deser, a portfolio manager representing Union Investment, which is part of Germany’s cooperative financial services network.

Deser had asked whether RWE’s climate strategy was compatible with its lobbying and whether management could demonstrate that those activities did not run counter to its claims of moving toward more sustainable forms of energy.

Institutional investors have stepped up pressure on energy firms to take responsibility for their contribution to the greenhouse gases causing climate change and Union Investment is part of a group that has pledged to push for bolder action.

Schmitz told shareholders in Essen that RWE would scrutinize the positions adopted by industry associations of which it was a member to see whether they were aligned with the Paris accord.

The CEO said RWE, whose huge legacy coal-fired generation capacity in its core markets places it among the biggest carbon polluters in Europe, would publish results in a sustainability report in a year’s time.

RWE is committed to spend billions of euros on its planned green energy expansion that will follow an asset swap with rival E.ON later this year.

Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff, writing by Vera Eckert, editing by Alexander Smith