Royal Dutch Shell plc shareholders during the annual general meeting on Tuesday handily defeated a resolution calling for tougher operational emissions targets, but CEO Ben van Beurden promised the company would continue to be a leader in combating climate change.
The resolution brought by activist group Follow This, backed by 5.54% of shareholders, called for Shell to set targets in line with the 2015 United Nations-led climate accord. A similar resolution in 2017 was supported by 6.3% of the votes.
Many of the shareholders attending the meeting in London peppered Van Beurden on reducing emissions. The CEO, who repeatedly defended Shell’s record on climate change, pointed to a pledge made last year to reduce by half its carbon footprint by 2050 with more investments in global natural gas and adding stakes in renewables.
“This ambition is truly industry-leading,” van Beurden said. “Nobody else comes close. It is seriously ambitious.” The resolution as presented, he said, would tie management’s hands.
To the Follow This supporters, van Beurden said Shell “wants to lead, so let us...Follow us.”
At some point Shell may tie its carbon reduction efforts to executive pay, but he provided no timeline.
Shareholders also approved the executive compensation plan, although about 25% were opposed. Shell’s Gerard Kleisterlee, who chairs the remuneration committee, blamed the lack of stronger support on proxy advisers. Influential proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services had urged Shell investors to reject the remuneration plan because of the company’s performance on sustainable development targets and an accident in Pakistan, which claimed the lives of 221 people.