Lloyd’s braces for climate activist disruption at AGM as BP shareholders reject stronger emissions plans
Insurance giant Lloyd’s of London is urging members to watch its AGM online on Thursday (19 May), to shield them from in-person demonstrations from climate campaigners. The news comes after climate-related resolutions were discussed at AGMs for firms including BP and Boeing.
Last week, Lloyd’s of London wrote to shareholders, urging them to avoid the company’s headquarters on the day of the AGM and to join virtually instead. A note from chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown states that there is a “significantly increased” risk that climate activists from groups including Extinction Rebellion (XR) will disrupt the meeting, which would make it challenging to “maintain smooth conduct of the meeting”.
Activists had reportedly planned to disrupt the meeting to call on Lloyd’s to set out plans to align its activities with the Paris Agreement. The company published its first ESG strategy last year, detailing plans to end investment in coal, oil sands and fossil fuel exploration in the Arctic by 2022 and also setting out ambitions to increase investment in low-carbon energy, transport and industry. There were, however, no time-bound emissions reductions targets.
XR has also been pressing Lloyd’s to specifically end support for the Trans Mountain Pipeline extension project in Canada. The current pipeline carries 300,000 barrels of oil per day and the planned expansion will increase its daily output to 890,000 barrels.
Other groups taking action against Lloyd’s climate approach this AGM season Coal Action Network, Mothers Rise Up, Parents for Future and Insure Our Future. Insure Our Future is criticizing the firm for failing to detail progress on ending investment in certain kinds of fossil fuel projects in its new ESG report, published today (17 May).
Insure Our Future’s European coordinator Lindsay Keenan called the report “a disgrace” and said it “exemplifies many of the worst aspects of corporate greenwashing”.
edie approached Lloyd’s for a comment and a spokesperson said: “Our 2021 report outlines the progress we’ve made across the Corporation and market towards our goals on transforming our culture, how we are tackling climate action, strengthening our governance and giving back to our communities.
Our guidance to the market, published in October 2021, remains unchanged. We remain of the view that ceasing to provide new cover for thermal coal-fired plants, thermal coal mines, oil sands and Arctic energy exploration activity, and phasing out of existing cover by 2030, remains a sensible and pragmatic ambition for supporting the energy transition.”
Elsewhere, BP held its AGM last Thursday (12 May) at ExCel London and online. There, shareholders voted on a resolution filed by Follow This that would have compelled BP to set climate targets to reduce its absolute net emissions in line with the net-zero scenarios produced by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2021. These entail net absolute reductions in global annual emissions of 35-50% by 2030.
Only 15% of BP shareholders voted in favour of the Follow This resolution. When the same resolution was filed last year, it received 21% of the shareholder vote.
Follow This’s founder Mark Van Baal said: “Neither our climate resolution nor BP’s strategy have changed; their current strategy still does not lead to emission reductions by 2030. However, investor sentiment apparently has changed, likely as a result of the energy crisis and windfall profits brought on by the war in Ukraine.
“Investors’ short-termism, fuelled by the current windfall profits of BP, might have prevailed over the medium-term risk of value destruction caused by the climate crisis.”
Van Baal said the voting result was “a loss in the fight against the climate crisis” and that the vote could be used by BP to avoid changing its business model in the next 12 months. However, he did state that 15% is a “significant” proportion of investors.
BP recently reported an underlying profit of $6.2bn for the first quarter of 2022 – up from $2.6bn in the first quarter of 2021. The increase is largely driven by a sharp rise in oil prices.
With most oil and gas majors in Europe reporting profit hikes, the UK Government has faced pressure to implement a windfall tax on the sector, but has avoided the move to date by arguing that the sector needs to preserve funds to finance the energy transition. BP has stated that it will proceed with plans to invest up to £18bn in Britain’s energy system by 2030, with or without a windfall tax in 2022.
You can read a recap of climate votes held at AGMs earlier in May by clicking here. This article, from edie’s content editor Matt Mace, includes updates from Boeing, Barclays and Standard Chartered.