Church of England Pensions Board to vote against Paris climate target proposal at Shell following oil major’s climate commitments

Climate activist’s proposal could “distract” management says faith-based investor and lead CA100+ engager

The Church of England Pensions Board (CEPB) has announced that it will not support the Paris-aligned climate targets proposal filed by Dutch campaign group Follow This at Shell in acknowledgement of the European oil major’s recent climate commitments. 

Last month, Shell unveiled its “ambition” to become a “net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 or sooner”.

Adam Matthews, Director of Ethics and Engagement at CEPB, attributed the commitment to the engagement efforts of Climate Action 100+ (CA100+), the multi-trillion investor initiative targeting the world’s dirtiest companies.

CEPB leads the engagement on Shell with Dutch asset manager Robeco.

Matthews states in the announcement that, given Shell’s responsiveness to investor concerns, the proposal from Follow This was unnecessary and “will only serve to distract management”. 

“Substantial progress on climate has been made by the company as shown by its most recent announcement,” Matthews said.

“Our preference is to continue our robust and effective engagement on climate change.”

But Mark van Baal, Founder of Follow This, told RI that climate targets “should distract management all the time from their current plans to grow their oil and gas business.”

“Only concrete targets will lead to the much needed shift in investments from fossil fuels to renewables,” he added.

Last year, CA100+ called on Follow This to withdraw a similar proposal at Shell – which the NGO eventually did – following the company’s commitment “to set short-term targets” as steps to achieve its “long-term ambition” of reducing emissions.

Speaking to RI last week about climate commitments made by Total, van Baal described a concerning pattern emerging from European oil majors.

“Every time a climate targets resolution comes to a vote at an oil major, the targeted company publishes a new ambition together with CA100+ and calls the resolution ‘unnecessary’”, he said

Matthews, however, told RI that he was “firmly of the view that we are achieving the scale and direction of change needed at Shell through engagement”. 

He said that CEPB has supported Follow This proposals in the past and may do again but on Shell the proposal is misplaced given the company’s recent commitments.

US proxy advisory firms ISS and Glass Lewis are not recommending support for the proposal at Shell this year – though, interestingly, ISS is recommending support for the same Follow This proposal at rival European oil & gas major, Equinor. See RI’s recent round-up

Shell’s annual meeting takes place on 19 May.