A RESOLUTION passed by BP is an "unprecedented response" by an
energy company to shareholders' concerns about climate change, a
Church Commissioner said today.
The resolution, "Strategic Resilience for 2035 and Beyond"
passed by 98 per cent of voters at the company's AGM, means that BP
will have to reveal far more in its annual reports about its
response to climate change. From 2016 it will have to report on a
range of measures including emissions management, low-carbon
energy research and development, executive incentivisation
during the low-carbon transition, and public policy positions
relating to climate change.
Edward Mason, head of responsible investment at the Church
Commissioners, said that the resolution was prompted by engagement
from the "Aiming for A" coalition of shareholders, which includes
the Church's national investing bodies.
Backed by BP's board, it was, he said, "an unprecedented
response by an oil and gas major and its institutional
"BP's commitment to increased disclosure on its climate-change
strategy will set a new standard, and is a significant development
in the relationship between institutional shareholders and the oil
and gas industry on sustainability."
With funds worth £170 billion, the "Aiming for A" coalition was
launched in 2012, as "a new investor initiative to engage on
climate and carbon risk with the ten largest extractives and
utilities companies in the FTSE 100".
The resolution won the support of some of BP's largest
investors, including leading pension funds.
Catherine Howarth, chief executive at ShareAction, which seeks
to increase shareholder activism on environmental, social and
governance issues, said that the AGM was "an important day for
shareholder democracy. Dozens of small shareholders played a
crucial role in filing this shareholder resolution, and thousands
of pension savers have petitioned their schemes to vote in support.
Climate change is everybody's business, and today proves it."
The Church of England is facing calls to divest from fossil
fuels altogether. The Ethical Investment Advisory Group will report
to the General Synod in July on how the Church's investments will
reflect concern for the environment.
Last month, the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas
Holtam, who speaks for the Church on the environment, said that it
was "important to engage with all the players in this, and
fossil-fuel players are a very important part. To have an
investment policy which engages with them, and helps them to get to
a position where they begin to be part of the solution, is also
going to be key to this."