(Bloomberg) -- Climate resolutions are struggling to gain traction at Big Oil’s annual general meetings this year as growing fears of a global supply crunch put environmental issues on hold.
Dutch activist shareholder group Follow This saw support for its climate resolution at BP Plc’s AGM drop to 15% on Thursday from 20% a year earlier. It attributed the result to the “energy supply crisis” following the meeting in London. Shell Plc investors will vote on the same proposal on May 24.
With the war in Ukraine threatening fossil-fuel flows and driving energy prices higher, some governments have shown a willingness to reconsider or slow the retreat from oil and gas to ensure security of supply. Both BP and Shell posted stellar quarterly earnings earlier this month on the back of soaring prices and their shares have surged.
Follow This argues that booming profits provide the necessary capital to make the massive investments required to protect the climate, and is asking oil companies to set emission goals consistent with those of the Paris Agreement.
But BP boss Bernard Looney took aim at the group this week, saying the blanket climate resolution didn’t distinguish between progress at different firms and might create “confusion as to who is accountable for our strategy.”
Follow This founder Mark van Baal said BP’s strategy hasn’t changed, and “still does not lead to emission reductions by 2030.” He said the drop in support for the resolution suggested “sentiment apparently has changed, likely as a result of the energy crisis and windfall profits brought on by the war in Ukraine.”
BP’s advisory vote on its own energy-transition plans, put forward for the first time at this year’s AGM, received almost 89% of shareholder support.
It remains to be seen whether Shell investors will follow suit. Van Baal said support for his group’s proposal at that gathering could actually grow from last year’s 30%, thanks to the backing of nine out of 10 of the Netherlands’ largest investors.
Such an outcome is far from certain. At ConocoPhillips’ meeting Tuesday, more than 60% of shareholders voted against the proposal from Follow This, and the company said investors are not clamoring for more emissions targets. A similar resolution at Occidental Petroleum Corp. also failed to garner enough votes.
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