Investors Push Shell on Emission Calculation

19.05.2017 -

Shareholders of oil and petrochemical group Shell attending the annual general meeting in The Hague on May 23 are due to vote on a new plan to link 10% of executives' bonus pay to lowering carbon emissions. In advance of the meeting, some investors are leaning on management to outline in advance how it will calculate its targets rather than publishing them retrospectively n the annual report.

Shell won positive recognition when announcing the plan, which some saw as atonement for developing energy intensive and polluting projects such as Canadian oil sands; however, critics say precise information about what it will mean has not yet been forthcoming.

“This is a good move by the company but we would like to see more," Bruce Duguid, director in the stewardship team at Hermes Investment Management, told the news agency Reuters. “We would prefer to see public, pre-set greenhouse gas reduction targets using a methodology appropriate to the type of an emission," the Shell investor commented.

Other shareholders have urged Shell to include 100% of emissions from operations in its remuneration policy. They criticize that the calculation does not include emissions from oil and gas production but solely factors in polluting gases from refineries, chemical plants and gas flaring, which account for only 60% of the total.

“The more difficult issue of the carbon intensity of Shell’s reserves hasn't been addressed," Matt Crossman of Rathbone Greenbank Investments remarked to Reuters. "We would love to see that metric be expanded to cover the trickier issue of upstream emissions, from exploration and production.”

The Dutch-British group is also facing longer-term pressure to increase transparency of its emissions reporting allowing shareholders to compare it with peers. The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, which includes 137 investors managing $13 trillion in assets, has gone a step farther than most critics, urging Shell to stress-test its business model against a sharper growth in electric cars and renewable energy.

At the annual meeting, a group of climate-activist shareholders known as Follow Me said they will call for a vote on a resolution forcing Shell to widen its targets to include scope 3 emissions, covering overall emissions from the burning of oil and gas products sold to end consumers. This, they say, is more relevant than the figures the group has published for scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from direct and indirect operations.