Voting data has revealed that prominent American investors, who hold significant stakes in the top five western oil companies, have rejected resolutions by an activist group during shareholder meetings this year. These resolutions aimed to align the companies’ emission goals with the Paris Agreement on climate change.
European Companies May Have Supported the Resolutions
Interestingly, this contrasts the actions of specific European counterparts who are more willing to support such resolutions.
Follow This, an activist group headquartered in the Netherlands, was initially established with the primary objective of directing its efforts towards Shell (SHEL.L). However, over time, the organization expanded its scope and began submitting climate resolutions to other prominent multinational corporations in the Western world.
Based on the information released by the company and its investors, it has been reported that prominent American investors have all voted against the Follow This resolution during the current year.
It Is Very Important to Synchronize Emission Targets
The resolutions urged the various groups to synchronize their 2030 end-use emissions objectives with the objective set in Paris, which aims to limit the increase in global temperature to a maximum of two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels. This target necessitates a reduction of approximately 43% in greenhouse gas emissions compared to the levels recorded in 2019, as advised by scientists.
Amundi, a renowned financial institution based in France, and HSBC, a prominent banking entity from Britain, supported the activist group’s cause by voting in favor of their proposals at all five energy firms. Similarly, UBS, a distinguished Swiss bank, also backed the activist group’s resolution for all the energy companies except for BP.
At the meetings of Chevron and Exxon, Follow This received support from Germany’s Allianz (ALVG.DE).
Investors possess a pivotal role in addressing the pressing issue of the climate crisis through their influential shareholder voting authority within the realm of Big Oil. According to Mark van Baal, the founder of Follow This, Amundi, Allianz, and UBS are actively utilizing their voting power to address and alleviate the climate crisis.
In 2022, the resolutions by Follow This garnered a voting percentage ranging from 15% to 33% at the five significant companies, except TotalEnergies, which did not present any solutions during that particular year. In the current year, it garnered a range of support, varying between 10% and 30%, across the five firms.
In a surprising turn of events, Legal & General IM, a prominent investment firm in Britain, voted against Follow This in all instances this year. This decision comes in stark contrast to their previous stance, as they had actively supported the activist recovery for Chevron and Exxon during last year’s shareholder meetings.
Unexpected Changes in the Positions of Some Companies
This unexpected shift in position raises questions about the underlying motivations and considerations that led to this change in voting behavior.
The actions taken by Glass Lewis and ISS, prominent shareholder proxy voting firms, have mirrored the stance of Follow This. However, they have made alterations to their recommendations for the current year, which have had negative implications for Follow This. Notably, they have withdrawn their backing for the activist recovery at Chevron.