March 1, 2019 / 1:40 AM / 25 days ago

Activists press Woodside, Santos to set carbon emission targets

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia’s top two independent gas producers, Woodside Petroleum and Santos, are being urged by an activist investor to set carbon emissions targets for their businesses to help limit global warming.

FILE PHOTO: The shadow of a man is cast onto a poster displaying the logo for Woodside Petroleum, Australia's top independent oil and gas company, at a briefing for investors in Sydney, Australia, May 23, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray

The two Australian companies are among a list of global oil and gas companies, including giants Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron Corp and BP Plc, being pressed by investors to tackle climate change.

The Australasian Center for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) filed resolutions for the annual meetings of Woodside and Santos, calling on them to spell out strategies for reducing emissions, disclose how planned spending fits the Paris Climate accord, and how executives would be encouraged to meet emissions targets.

The Paris accord, adopted by almost 200 nations, set a goal of limiting global warming this century to well below 2 degrees C (3.6 Fahrenheit).

ACCR, which advocates for listed Australian companies to improve their environmental, social and governance performance, said the two companies were not doing enough on climate change.

“This is fundamentally a conversation about what these businesses will look like in a carbon constrained world,” ACCR Executive Director Brynn O’Brien said in a statement. “Gas cannot displace coal as a primary energy source if we want to limit global warming to well under two degrees.”

Both Woodside and Santos have said gas could help reduce global emissions as an important transition fuel in the shift to renewable energy.

Santos released a climate change report last week setting out targets for reducing carbon emissions from its operations, targeting net-zero emissions by 2050.

A Santos spokeswoman said the company could have the biggest impact on greenhouse gas emissions by increasing sales of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia.

“For every tonne of CO2 produced in Australia, LNG saves 3 to 10 tonnes when it is used for power generation in Asia,” Santos spokeswoman Daniela Ritorto said in emailed comments.

A second ACCR resolution asks the companies to review their membership of industry associations, such as the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, which the ACCR said have “sought to obstruct climate policy.”

Both companies said they would respond in two business days to the resolutions.

Reporting by Sonali Paul; editing by Richard Pullin

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