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BP agrees to come clean about its carbon footprint

16 April 2015


Warming up: a polar bear stands on the ice in the Russian Arctic territory

Warming up: a polar bear stands on the ice in the Russian Arctic territory

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 investors.

"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."

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