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Oil and gas majors on both sides of the Atlantic are scheduled to hold their annual general meetings in the coming weeks. Existing climate strategies are up for votes alongside a range of investor-led resolutions targeting emissions reductions.
In Europe, Norway’s Equinor and Britain’s BP will hold their respective AGMs on Wednesday and Thursday. U.K.-based Shell will hold its annual shareholder meeting on May 24 and France’s TotalEnergies AGM will take place on May 25.
The forthcoming proxy season comes amid intensifying pressure on Big Oil to set short- and medium-term targets in line with the landmark Paris Agreement. The 2015 accord is widely recognized as critically important to avoid an irreversible climate crisis.
At present, not a single oil and gas major is aligned with the Paris Agreement goal of curbing global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Dutch group Follow This, a small activist investor and campaign group with stakes in several Big Oil companies, is slated to put forward a number of climate resolutions this month. It is urging investors to leverage their agency and compel energy majors to align themselves with the Paris Agreement.
“The message is, and I’ve tried to get it across for years already, they won’t change on their own accord. They won’t change on engagement. They are only going to change if you are crystal clear to them — and the only way to do that is by voting,” Mark van Baal, founder of Follow This, told CNBC via video call.
“If you want the Paris climate agreement to be achieved you need to vote in favor of these resolutions,” van Baal said. “These resolutions don’t ask for something extreme. It is a fair ask.”
Investors at oil majors such as Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron voted for climate-related resolutions last year and campaign groups are hoping for more success this month. These hopes are partly premised on liability risks for directors and institutional investors of oil and gas majors.
Shell’s board of directors “risk future personal liability” for not aligning with the Paris accord, according to environmental lawyers at Paulussen Advocaten, the law firm that won a landmark case against the oil giant in May last year. Shell has appealed the ruling.
Read More: Big Oil braces for shareholder revolt in proxy voting season