CHURCH investors have claimed an early victory in their drive to
persuade energy companies to be more open about how they are
tackling climate change.
A shareholder resolution filed by a coalition of investors,
Aiming for A, which includes the Church Commissioners and the
Church of England Pensions Board, has gained the support of the
board of Shell. The resolution calls on Shell to include in its
annual reporting from 2016 how it is reducing its emissions, what
research it is doing into low-carbon energy, and its public
policies on climate change (News, 12
In a letter on Shell's website, the firm's executive
Vice-President for investor relations, J. J. Traynor, wrote that
the board had decided to recommend that shareholders support the
resolution at Shell's annual general meeting in April.
"Shell will provide additional reporting in 2015, in advance of
full reporting in response to the Resolution in 2016, in the most
appropriately updated report or website location, which will
include our sustainability reporting and our emissions reporting
website," he wrote.
A similar resolution will also be filed at BP's AGM by Aiming
For A, which holds £160 billion-worth of shares.
Shell's decision to support the group's demands has been
welcomed by the Church Commissioners. Their head of responsible
investment, Edward Mason, said: "The Church Commissioners are
delighted by Shell's very constructive decision to recommend that
its shareholders support the request for increased disclosure of
the company's strategy on climate change.
"This shows what an important role shareholders can play in
promoting business adaptation to the transition to a low carbon
The head of ethical and responsible investment at CCLA (the
investment managers who are co-ordinating the activities of Aiming
For A), Helen Wildsmith, said: "Shell's response indicates that
supportive but stretching shareholder resolutions can play a
positive stewardship role."
Methodist investments criticised. The Methodist
Church's investments in companies that allegedly avoid paying tax
has been highlighted by the Methodist Tax Justice Network in a new
The Network says that firms in which the Methodist Church has
large investments, such as BP and Vodafone, use tax havens such as
Mauritius, or Delaware, in the United States, to avoid paying tax.
It says that in 2012 and 2013 Vodafone paid no tax in the UK,
despite having revenues of £5.2 billion in 2013.
The co-ordinator of the Network, Matthew Jones, said that he was
not calling on the Church to divest from all tax-avoiding
companies, but to use its position as a significant shareholder to
argue against aggressive tax-avoidance.
A spokesman for the Methodist Church said: "The Central Finance
Board has a policy of what it calls 'active ethical investment',
using its position as a shareholder to engage with companies on a
range of issues."