BP backs climate change transparency at AGM

An overwhelming majority of BP shareholders have backed a resolution forcing the company to be more transparent about its impact on climate change.

Resolution 25, tabled at the BP AGM by a £170bn coalition of investors, was passed with 98% support and the backing of BP’s chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg.

The company has committed to publishing more information on its resilience to climate action, including whether limits on carbon emissions will damage the value of its oil and gas.

It will also consider the benefits of investment in low-carbon technology, the scale of its direct carbon dioxide emissions from its operations and its lobbying activities on climate change.

Svanberg said in his opening address that BP was “pleased to support the resolution”, adding that climate change is a “clear challenge for the world.” 

He went on to say that BP projects greenhouse gas emissions to have increased by 25% by 2035, but downplayed the role of fossil fuels, highlighting instead the 25% contribution made by agriculture ‘which also needs attention.’

No Targets

While BP has agreed to transparency, Svanberg made it clear to the Guardian that it would not be setting targets for its own greenhouse gas emissions any time soon, saying such targets could be “counter-productive”.

Instead BP is pushing for a global carbon price to support the competitiveness of lower carbon alternatives, and investing in developing lower-carbon technologies.

It is also advocating a transition from coal to gas, saying this move would reduce emissions to half and “buy critical time in the transition”. BP is set to increase the proportion of gas in its portfolio above 50%.

Lastly it plans to focus on energy efficiency in its operations and products.

‘Unprecedented Response’

Edward Mason, head of responsible investment at the Church Commissioners and member of the Aiming for A investor coalition whcih intiated the proposal, said: “The ‘Aiming for A’ coalition’s engagement with BP has prompted 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.”

The Shell board has also recommended that investors back the ‘Aiming for A’ resolution at the company’s AGM on 19th May.

Royal Dutch Shell’s recent sustainability report revealed that emissions rose by 3m tonnes in 2014 to 76m tonnes.

Lucinda Dann

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