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Santos and Woodside latest targets of ‘Say on Climate’ campaign

Pressure continues to mount on companies to allow annual climate votes

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) has filed climate resolutions at Santos and Woodside Petroleum as it becomes the latest organisation to join hedge fund billionaire and activist Sir Chris Hohn’s Say on Climate initiative. 

In line with the aims of the campaign, the shareholder advocacy group is asking for an annual vote on the adoption of a climate report consistent with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures and the Climate Action 100+ Net-Zero Company Benchmark. 

‘The Say on Climate framework will provide shareholders with the opportunity to send a clear signal to the board about whether the company is effectively managing the risks of climate change’

“While Santos and Woodside have both committed to net zero emissions by 2040 and 2050, respectively, neither company has disclosed a concrete plan to get there,” said Dan Gocher, Director of Climate and Environment at ACCR. Last year, the oil and gas giants were the subject of landmark climate resolutions, with calls for Paris-aligned targets garnering 50.16% support at Woodside and 43% at Santos – becoming the largest shareholder-backed proposals in Australian history. 

Gocher added: “Due to the rapid transition taking place in the energy sector, it is imperative that shareholders are provided with the information required to assess the future earnings and value of these companies. The Say on Climate framework will provide shareholders with the opportunity to send a clear signal to the board about whether the company is effectively managing the risks of climate change.”

Say on Climate is led by Hohn’s The Children’s Investment Fund Management and The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (UK), with support from ShareAction, CDP and the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum. 

Akin to the ‘Say on Pay’ vote that gives shareholders the right to regularly vote on the compensation of top executives, the initiative is pushing for more climate disclosure, planning and management, accompanied by an AGM vote. 

Already it has successfully petitioned financial services firm Moody’s and Spanish airports company Aena, and has resolutions filed at Alphabet, Charter Communications and S&P Global, among others. 

The campaign comes alongside broader mounting pressure for companies to let investors vote on their climate progress. In recent months, As You Sow, which supports the initiative, has filed resolutions regarding annual climate transition reports at railroad operator Union Pacific, energy drink maker Monster Beverage Corp, and online travel company Booking Holdings.

Adam Matthews, Director of Ethics & Engagement Church of England Pensions and Co-Chair of the Corporate Programme for Europe’s Institutional Investor Group on Climate Change, previously told RI that “investors need to have confidence in the transition plans of a company”. 

“It seems only right that on an issue as fundamental as this, investors have an opportunity on an annual basis to express their support, or otherwise, for the approach of the company. The opportunity is for company management to receive the support of their investors to go further and faster. This in turn would address a concern that sometimes you feel companies are trying to ride two horses and being pulled in different directions. A vote will provide clarity to the Board.”