Advisory firm PIRC opposes Shell climate plan for lacking ambition

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A view shows a board with the logo of Shell at the company's fuel station in Saint Petersburg, Russia May 6, 2022. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

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LONDON, May 19 (Reuters) - Advisory group PIRC recommended shareholders vote against Shell's (SHEL.L) non-binding climate resolution at the energy company's annual general meeting (AGM) on Tuesday, according to a document seen by Reuters.

The Pensions & Investment Research Consultants (PIRC), a major proxy advisory, said Shell's climate plans did not provide sufficient clarity on who was accountable for reaching emissions reduction targets, which in any case lacked ambition.

Shell formulates its climate targets in terms of carbon intensity, which allows for higher overall emissions on the back of higher output, even if the headline intensity emissions count falls.

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"We would prefer to see all targets set out in terms of absolute emissions, not intensity," PIRC said. Claims on carbon capture and storage as well as forestry-derived carbon offsets were not clear enough, it added.

The proxy adviser voted against Shell's climate plans last year on the same grounds.

PIRC recommended shareholders vote in favour of a resolution filed by the Follow This activist group asking Shell to publish climate goals consistent with the Paris climate accord of 2015, aiming for absolute emissions reductions of around 40% by 2030.

At Shell's 2021 AGM, shareholders backed Shell's climate plans, but Follow This garnered support from around 30% of Shell shareholders, more than doubling its tally from the previous year.

The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, a British shareholder group with assets under management of around 350 billion pounds ($433 billion) that says it has a collective 4% holding in Shell, will also vote against Shell and for Follow This.

"'Progess' against a flawed strategy isn't progress," a LAPFF spokesperson said in a statement.

Two other major proxy advisory groups, ISS and Glass Lewis, recommended to support Shell's climate resolution and reject Follow This, documents show.

Pressure increased on Shell to step up its climate strategy after a Dutch court ordered it last year to cut its absolute emissions by 45% by 2030. Shell has appealed the ruling, saying it can reach net zero only if society as a whole does so. read more

Shell, saying its strategy is in line with the Paris accord, recommended shareholders rebuff Follow This, calling it "unrealistic" in a note to shareholders.

($1 = 0.8079 pounds)

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Editing by Jan Harvey and Barbara Lewis

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