Home > Shareholders put climate front and centre

Shareholders put climate front and centre

24 June 2017

Market Forces is all about empowering community members to hold organisations accountable for their climate and environmental impacts. A major element of this work involves working with shareholders to enable them to raise these issues directly with companies at their annual general meetings (AGMs).

In the first half of 2017, Market Forces helped shareholders or their proxies attend 10 AGMs of fossil fuel companies or their financial backers, ensuring each was challenged on the environmental impacts of its business decisions.

The results of our shareholder activism work in the first half of 2017 include

Get involved!

If you’d like to support our shareholder work, there are a number of ways you can get involved. Just fill out one (or all!) of the forms on the right.

Donate to support our shareholder activism work

Adani supporters revealed

In response to shareholder questioning at their AGMs, both QBE and AMP revealed they have pre-existing relationships with Adani.

Because of these admissions, both companies were added to our Adani List. The page highlights the companies that could make or break the dirty Carmichael coal project, and allows people to take action and pressure those companies to rule out involvement in the project.

Forcing climate risk disclosure

Market Forces worked with shareholders of major oil and gas companies Oil Search, Santos and Woodside to create resolutions that would force each of those companies to measure and disclose the risks climate change poses to their business.

This was a mammoth effort that involved developing the resolutions, building shareholder support, discussing the asks with the companies, lodging resolutions and building investor support. It was great to have so many shareholders prepared to work together with us on this really important issue. And the results achieved were well and truly earned by all those involved.

The major win came at Oil Search, where our climate disclosure resolution was successfully lodged. With strong shareholder support for the resolution, the company agreed to implement all of its asks.

A similar shareholder resolution was lodged at Santos, and despite initial support from investors, many ended voting against it. These investors were apparently swayed by Santos’ last ditch effort to placate them with very much watered down commitments regarding climate risk disclosure.

Facing the prospect of a similar resolution, Woodside committed to take some steps towards full climate risk disclosure. As with Santos, more pressure will be required to improve on these commitments and ensure climate risk disclosure is complete and accurate.

Amplifying community voices

Thanks to the generous support of hundreds of donors to a Market Forces-run crowdfunding campaign, Traditional Custodians Micklo Corpus Yawuru and Dr Anne Poelina, a Nyikina Warrwa woman from the West Kimberley region of Western Australia, were able to attend the Buru Energy AGM.

Micklo and Anne took the opportunity to challenge Buru over their fracking plans in the Kimberly, which have faced years of vehement community opposition.

In a similar story of community opposition being brought to the board table, Market Forces helped Robert McLaughlin attend the Rio Tinto AGM for the second time. Robert represented his fellow residents of Bulga, a town that has been devastated by Rio’s nearby Mt Thorley Warkworth coal mine, and raised the communities concerns about the mine’s health and environmental impacts directly with the Rio board.

Calling out energy companies that just don’t get it!

Shareholder questioning produced some outrageous comments from energy company directors who clearly don’t understand climate change and the risks it poses to their businesses.

Firstly there was Sino Gas‘ admission that climate change does not rate as a material business risk. Then Santos‘ Chairman Peter Coates, who told us the company adopts a 4°C (or ‘business as usual’) warming pathway for its scenario analyses. This is despite the company’s public ‘support’ for the 2°C warming limit of the Paris Agreement.

But even that didn’t take the cake for most ridiculously out of touch comment from a director this AGM season. That mantle goes to Sundance Energy, who told shareholders the company is not aware of any impacts from climate change on their business, and there is no forward planning for impacts of climate change. That’s right, a fossil fuel company, whose entire business model is at odds with action to curb climate change doesn’t think they stand to be impacted. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so serious.

One fossil fuel company that was keen to find some humour was FAR Ltd. The company’s Chairman Nicholas Limb attempted to discredit decades of scientific research into climate change, saying: “the fact that anyone is actually quantifying something like two degrees is laughable in the extreme.”

Listen to Santos Chairman Peter Coates explaining the 4°C future his company is preparing for:

“The fact that someone is actually quantifying something like two degrees is laughable in the extreme.”FAR Ltd Chairman Nicholas Limb