Backers needed for ACCR climate proposals at Australia’s Woodside and Santos

Plea from Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility as deadline looms

Shareholders are being urged to support climate proposals at Australian gas giants Woodside Petroleum and Santos led by the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), as the deadline for filing a resolution looms.

The shareholder advocacy group states that despite engaging with the companies on the issue, neither has a “credible plan” plan to “bring their businesses in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement to prevent global temperature increase of 2°C”.

The ACCR’s latest shareholder push would see Santos and Woodside called upon to disclose how they plan to align with the Paris climate agreement, including “how their spending or capital expenditure aligns with reducing emissions, and how executives are incentivised to deliver on the strategy”.

Both companies would also be expected to review their industry associations as part of the resolution – a major theme in Australia currently.

Last year, a resolution filed by the ACCR at Origin Energy on its climate lobbying was backed by an impressive 46% of shareholders. Investor pressure led Origin’s Chairman, Gordon Cairns, to commit to improving disclosure around trade bodies at the company’s annual meeting.

“Enough is enough” the ACCR states, “It is time for shareholders raise our voices together asking for change.” The non-profit body needs 100 shareholders by Friday to file this year’s resolutions ahead of both companies’ annual meetings, which are expected in May.

This call to arms comes as Brynn O’Brien, the ACCR’s Executive Director publicly questioned the position taken on coal mines by the Climate Action 100+ (CA100+), the global investor coalition for engagement on climate change issues.Australian Super’s governance manager Andrew Gray – also Australia’s representative on the global steering committee of Climate Action 100+ – is quoted in the country’s press as saying: “Climate Action 100+ has no position that all coal mines should be closed. The focus of Climate Action 100+ is on engagement not divestment.”

“It is time for shareholders raise our voices together asking for change.”

But writing on Twitter, O’Brien responded: “Really @ActOnClimate100? You might not say it upfront, but surely the position is that all coal mines must over some reasonable horizon, be closed. A habitable planet depends on keeping hydrocarbons in the ground.”

She then adds: “Also: engagement and divestment are not mutually exclusive.”

Fiona Reynolds, CEO, of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), one of the five coordinating partners of the CA100+, told RI that: “The goal of the CA100+ is to uphold the aims of the Paris Climate Agreement…the CA100+ does not dictate about divestment, it is up to individual investors as to whether or not they choose to divest from carbon-intensive industries.”

Staying in Australia, the Greens NSW have announced a A$1.8bn “direct investment program” to support communities transitioning away from coal.

The Coal Community and Environment Trust will be funded by a “guaranteed income stream of 20% of all state coal royalties until 2030”, according to the press release.