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Australia’s first climate change resolution gets 8.5% backing

Super funds step up to challenge Woodside Petroleum on carbon price assumptions

Australia’s first ever climate change resolution urging Woodside Petroleum to publish a Carbon Price Assumption Report persuaded just over 8.5% of shareholders to vote for (5.6%) or abstain (2.9%) at its annual general meeting on April 20.
The resolution, which comes as the Australian government debates the introduction of carbon reduction policies, was brought by the Climate Advocacy Shareholder Group, an Australian shareholder lobby group, and Australian Ethical Investment, an investment funds group.
It garnered support from the influential Australian Council of Superannuation Investors who recommended that their members support the resolution. Australian superannuation funds including Local Government Super and MTAA, the industry super fund for the motor trade, also voted in favour.
The Woodside board recommended shareholders to vote against.
Woodside’s chairman Michael Chaney toldshareholders at the AGM that the company wouldn’t support a price on carbon.
Abstentions at AGMs are routinely considered as a rebuff to the company position. UK asset manager, F&C, which voted in favour of the resolution, said peer oil and gas companies including ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch-Shell, BP, Total and Statoil had all disclosed carbon price assumptions they factor into all capital expenditure modelling. It said: “As the Australian government debates whether or not to proceed with policies that will place constraints on carbon emissions, F&C considers it essential for large CO2 emitters like Woodside to ensure their business model is resilient in the face of potential escalation in the carbon price. Although Woodside has disclosed a clear climate change strategy and significant data on its overall emissions, the absence of any carbon price assumptions means investors have no clarity over how these data are relevant to core business decision-making.”