Shareholders back Shell's climate strategy after raucous meeting

Shell's climate resolution received about 80 per cent of votes, down from 89 per cent last year. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - Shareholders backed Shell's climate strategy in a meeting on Tuesday (May 24) that was disrupted by dozens of climate protesters, while a climate activist proposal from the Follow This group received fewer votes than last year.

It followed a Dutch court ruling in May 2021, telling the company to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms by 45 per cent by 2030 across the entire lifecycle of its hydrocarbons.

Shell aims to cut to net zero by 2050 all greenhouse gas emissions, including those from burning fuel and from products it sells. But it has appealed the ruling, saying it cannot be held responsible for customers releasing emissions by using Shell products.

Shell says its targets already support the UN Paris climate agreement which scientists say requires global emissions to fall by about 40 per cent by 2030. Shell's climate resolution received about 80 per cent of votes, down from 89 per cent last year, while Follow This received 20 per cent, down from 30 per cent last year, according to preliminary results.

Critics such as Follow This say its spending does not reflect its targets and say Shell's plans to cut emissions from oil well to car exhaust by 20 per cent by 2030 and 45 per cent by 2035 fall short.

One area of contention is how emissions goals are measured.

The bulk of Shell's targets are measured in terms of intensity, not in absolute terms. Shell's total emissions could rise as oil and gas production increases but the intensity could be reduced by, for example, increasing the company's renewables generation.

Shell's spending plans remain heavily tilted towards oil and gas. It plans to increase the share of spending on low-carbon energy to about 25 per cent by 2025 from about 15 per cent now.

As with Shell, shareholders in BP backed their company's climate strategy, while fewer investors than last year supported the Follow This resolution.

Demonstrators gathered at the Shell venue in London in protest at the company's climate policy, while Shell Chairman Andrew Mackenzie and Chief Executive Ben van Beurden looked on.

"We're here to embarrass them and hold them to account," said Aidan Knox, before the protesters ended their protest which delayed the meeting's proceedings by about three hours.

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