BP follows rival Shell in advising shareholders to back ‘Aiming for A’ climate resolution

Decision by oil major is warmly welcomed by investors

Oil major BP has followed its rival Royal Dutch Shell in recommending that its investors back the shareholder resolution on climate change filed under the ‘Aiming for A’ banner.

The investors filed a motion (‘Strategic Resilience for 2035 and Beyond’) at both BP and Shell for their annual meetings this year. Shell announced last week that it advised shareholders to back it, and BP has confirmed to Responsible Investor that it will recommend that shareholders back it at its AGM on April 16.

“The positive way in which BP and Shell have responded to our shareholder resolutions is completely unprecedented,” said Edward Mason, Head of Responsible Investment for the Church Commissioners, which has been involved in the process. He said it represented a “step change in engagement” between institutional shareholders and the oil and gas industry on the challenge of climate change.

Mason added that the next step was for investors to back the boards of both companies. The ‘Aiming for A’ coalition is a £160bn (€214bn) group of investors comprising large church, charity, local authority and individual investors which was launched in 2012.The initiative is led by CCLA Investment Management, the specialist fund firm which runs more than £1.5bn of Church of England money in the CBF Church of England funds. The point person at CCLA is its Head of Ethical & Responsible Investment Helen Wildsmith, the former Executive Director of UKSIF (the sustainable investment and finance association). She said: “BP’s response indicates that supportive but stretching shareholder resolutions can play a positive stewardship role.”

The investor coalition also includes the £150bn Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) and ethical fund manager Rathbone Greenbank. Kieran Quinn, chair of LAPFF and co-filer the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, said it was a “clear example” of the effectiveness of shareholder engagement backed by investor commitment.

BP told RI recently that it was continuing to have “constructive discussions” with CCLA and other shareholders and that it would “carefully consider” the resolution ahead of the AGM.

‘Aiming for A’ refers to the investors’ push to get companies in the top bracket of an assessment by the CDP [Carbon Disclosure Project].