Royal Dutch Shell to recommend Commissioners' resolution on climate change

06 February 2015

REUTERS

Lift-off: a rocket is launched in California on Saturday. It will help to track global climate change

Lift-off: a rocket is launched in California on Saturday. It will help to track global climate change

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 December).

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 economy."

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 booklet.

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."

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