Advisory firm PIRC slams Shell on climate strategy before AGM

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Royal Dutch Shell is seen at a petrol station in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw
·2 min read

By Ron Bousso

LONDON (Reuters) -Shareholder advisory PIRC recommended investors vote against Shell's non-binding resolution on its energy transition strategy on Tuesday, setting up a showdown at its annual general meeting next week.

The Pensions & Investment Research Consultants (PIRC), a major proxy advisory, said Royal Dutch Shell's strategy to cut emissions "does not seem to have a clear plan for the competitive aspects of the energy transition".

PIRC joins calls by several investors and activists opposing Shell's strategy, which has nevertheless won support of major investors that are part the Climate Action 100+ group.

PIRC also recommended supporting a resolution filed by activist group Follow This urging Shell to set "inspirational" targets to battle greenhouse gas emissions. Shell's board has recommended shareholders vote against this resolution.

In a statement on Tuesday, Shell said that the Follow This resolution was "redundant," urging shareholders to oppose it and "focus attention instead on the more detailed proposal from Shell which will help move the company forwards."

In February, Shell unveiled a plan to reduce planet-warming carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 by slowly reducing oil and gas output, growing its renewables and low-carbon business and offsetting emissions through carbon capturing technologies and measures such as forestation.

U.S. proxy advisory company Glass Lewis last month recommended investors support the Shell resolution and vote against the one put forward by Follow This.

Although the vote would be non-binding, investors see such votes as a mechanism to hold management publicly accountable.

PIRC, which advises investors managing over 1.5 trillion pounds ($2.12 trillion), said Shell's climate resolution lacked individual accountability for the board and does not list the chairman as responsible for the strategy.

It also criticised Shell's plan to reduce carbon emissions "in step with society," saying it should be leading instead.

Shell's emission reduction targets are intensity-based, representing emissions per unit of energy produced, technically allowing higher production.

PIRC said it would prefer to see Shell set out targets for absolute emission reductions, not intensity-based.

It also said the strategy appeared inconsistent with policy objectives and some of the targets.

Britain's Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) has said that Shell's strategy risks leaving many of its oil and gas reserves stranded, advising investors to vote against the non-biding resolution.

($1 = 0.7067 pounds)

(Reporting by Ron Bousso; Editing by Barbara Lewis and Alexander Smith)

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