A RESOLUTION passed by BP is an "unprecedented response" by an
energy company to shareholders' concerns about climate change, the
Church Commissioners' head of responsible investment, Edward Mason,
said last week.
The resolution, "Strategic Resilience for 2035 and Beyond",
passed by 98 per cent of voters at the company's AGM, means that
from 2016 BP will have to report annually 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
Mr Mason 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
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, lead bishop 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."
The Vicar of St John's Waterloo, the Revd Giles Goddard, who
sits on the Church's environmental working group, said on Monday
that the resolution was "a positive step. But it does not commit BP
to any reduction in emissions or to investing in renewable energy.
Engagement with fossil-fuel companies is only good if it brings
about a big reduction in carbon footprint. I await evidence that
pressure from shareholders is leading to major change. Otherwise we
should no longer be investing in this sector."
The Church of Sweden Bishops' pastoral letter on climate change