Climate Activist Investor Group Targeting US Companies

Climate Activist Investor Group Targeting US Companies

The Dutch activist fund has set its sight on the U.S. after pressuring major oil companies from Europe. Investor advocacy group Follow This has filed requests for shareholder votes at Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp.’s annual meetings for the first time, asking the companies to align their plans with the Paris climate accord. It has also filed resolutions for Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BP Plc and Equinor ASA.

Big Oil has come under increasing pressure from investors and environmental groups to invest in cleaner fuels as part of a wider energy transition. While Follow This resolution have so far been defeated, the group has gained public support from investors such as Dutch insurer Aegon and M&G Investments.

“We believe change comes from a small number of progressive investors, not the majority,” Follow This head Mark Van Baal said in a phone interview.

Chevron said it was too early to comment and that its board would review all proposals. “We have established greenhouse gas emission intensity reduction goals for upstream oil and natural gas, methane and flaring,” spokesman Sean Comey said.

In 2019, Exxon shareholders were denied a vote on publishing targets to align its business with the Paris climate agreement after the Securities and Exchange Commission ruled against a resolution brought forward by the Church of England and New York State. The SEC said that Exxon’s public disclosures “compare favorably” with its guidelines.

Follow This’s Van Baal said that by substituting the word “targets” for “strategies” the resolution is less likely to be blocked on the grounds of micromanaging.

Follow This buys shares in oil companies in order to press them over emissions. Its resolutions ask companies to align their investments with the 2016 Paris accord, which seeks to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. The group also says scope 3 emissions — those produced by consumers of oil companies’ products — should be included in targets.

Last May, BP investors voted in favor of the company reporting in greater detail how its investments are compatible with the Paris agreement. A second, more stringent filing proposed by Follow This was not successful.