Church investors chivvy BP and Shell

12 December 2014

christmas climate action

Retelling the Christmas story: campaigners from Christian Climate Action and Divest London gathered outside Methodist Central Hall in Westminster on Saturday 6 December to sing carols and perform a "Fossil Free Nativity" and call on the Methodist Church and the Church of England to disinvest from fossil fuels

Retelling the Christmas story: campaigners from Christian Climate Action and Divest London gathered outside Methodist Central Hall in Westminster on...

A COALITION of shareholders, led by the Church of England, will press BP and Shell to work harder to tackle climate change at their annual general meetings next year.

Alongside the Church Commissioners and the C of E Pensions Board, the ethical fund manager Rathbone Greenbank, and the Local Authorities Pension Fund Forum will co-file a resolution at the two companies' AGMs.

The head of responsible investment for the Church Commissioners, Edward Mason, said in a blog post on Thursday last week that the Church's investing bodies wanted to strengthen how they engaged with the businesses they invested in about the Church's ethical priorities.

"The shareholder resolutions are intended to challenge the companies to run their businesses so that they participate constructively in the transition to a low-carbon economy," he wrote. The resolutions call on each firm to release more information about how they control emissions, how much research is done into low-carbon energy, and how executives' pay and bonuses are connected to the company's success in transitioning to a lower-carbon future.

Mr Mason said that the resolutions were part of a broader push, which began in 2012, to encourage the ten main London-based utilities and extractive companies to increase their performance on climate change as ranked by the NGO CDP.

"We have chosen to file shareholder resolutions at BP and Shell because they have the biggest carbon footprints of all the companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, and they are yet to achieve A ratings (they are both rated B)," he said. Two years ago, half of the firms were given C, D, or E marks, but now all are at either B or A ratings.

"It is clear from the latest assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released this year, that the world is on a path towards dangerous climate change," Mr Mason wrote. "Oil and gas companies have a particular responsibility because the fuels they produce contribute to climate change when they are burned."

Shell declined to comment. A BP spokesman said that the company would consider the resolution when it was filed at its AGM in April and respond then.

In April, Archbishop Desmond Tutu called for an anti-apartheid-style boycott and divestment campaign against the fossil-fuel industry to save the world from climate change.

Writing in The Guardian, he said: "People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change. It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future."

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