Follow This files resolutions at US oil companies as BP joint engagement hits ‘wording’ hurdle

Resolutions filed with Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Occidental Petroleum and Phillips66

Dutch climate shareholder group Follow This has filed resolutions at Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Occidental Petroleum and Phillips66 in an attempt to galvanise the US oil firms into climate action as president-elect Joe Biden plans to rejoin the Paris Agreement.

RI understands that the US oil firms have opposed the resolutions, arguing that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should allow them to exclude them from the ballot for being either vague, micro-managerial or already implemented. 

The resolutions are tweaked to suit each firm, but all offer shareholder support to address Scope 3 emissions targets. Follow This hopes the new Biden administration will set a new tone at the top of the SEC making it harder for oil firms to block climate resolutions, as former Commodity Futures Trading Commission head, Gary Gensler, is tipped to be appointed the new SEC Chairman

In December, RI reported that Follow This has filed a resolution at BP, with input from the firm itself, but a BP spokesperson has now confirmed that the parties did not agree on the wording of the proposal and its board would respond to it in due course – likely when the notice of the AGM is published.

Collaboration between BP and Follow This started in March 2020, when the latter withdrew a climate resolution at BP to give its new CEO Bernard Looney a chance to elaborate on the firm’s new ambitions regarding Scope 3 emissions.

Mark van Baal, Founder of Follow This, said the initiative should be about “mindset not semantics”, and that the resolution it filed focuses on shareholder support for BP to set climate goals aligned with the Paris Agreement, rather than its own ambitions.  

Follow This believes the problem may lie in the fact that  BP’s own Net Zero ambition only covers its own production, increases overall emissions by 2030 and only halves overall emissions by 2050.

Mark van Baal said those sticking points can still be agreed upon and hopes the board will change its mind before the AGM, developing BP’s ambitions into Paris-consistent targets. 

“We are convinced that only a net-zero energy target, instead of a net-zero oil and gas ambition, will get the company in a true transition away from fossil fuels towards renewables.”

Similar resolutions have been filed at Shell and Equinor for 2021, following record levels of investor support for Follow This proposals in 2020: 14.4% at Shell and 27% of independent shareholders at Equinor.