Home > Woodside suffers world record-breaking vote against climate plan, embarrassingly large vote against Chair

Woodside suffers world record-breaking vote against climate plan, embarrassingly large vote against Chair

24 April 2024

Shareholders have today expressed their contempt for Woodside’s repeated failure to heed their concerns by fiercely rejecting the company’s climate strategy. Beating its own world record vote against a climate plan in 2022, a staggering 58% of Woodside’s shareholders voted against the company’s poor excuse for a climate transition plan this year.

Woodside also suffered a substantially embarrassing 17% vote against the re-election of its Chair, Richard Goyder. This protest vote is an indictment of Woodside’s failure to take the global energy transition seriously, given the average ASX 50 director is usually re-elected with 96.5% support.

After years of increasing shareholder pressure to bring its business plans into line with a credible net zero pathway, Woodside has today reaffirmed its penchant for stubbornly ignoring shareholder concerns and ploughing ahead with its climate-wrecking oil and gas growth strategy at all costs.

Market Forces CEO Will van de Pol speaking at a press conference ahead of Woodside’s AGM today.

The following comments can be attributed to Will van de Pol, CEO, Market Forces:

“In a world first, a majority of shareholders have rejected Woodside’s dangerous climate plan, while some of the world’s biggest investors have turned their backs on Richard Goyder’s leadership.”

“The person who’s presided over Woodside’s skyrocketing emissions and woeful responses to climate demands can turn up and Chair the next board meeting, showing too many investors have failed to hold the company’s leadership to account.

“Investors have attempted to oust directors multiple years in a row and must escalate pressure further to prevent Woodside from barrelling down its climate wrecking path.”

Ignoring shareholder concerns for half a decade

Today is yet another episode in the years-long saga of Woodside blatantly disregarding shareholder concerns about its climate risk management plan. The company’s sheer stubbornness in sticking to its oil and gas growth strategy in the face of major shareholder backlash (paired with its refusal to adequately respond to that backlash) is telling of Woodside’s insincerity about transitioning its business in line with the climate goals it claims to be committed to.

Woodside’s refusal to engage in constructive debate with shareholders in the room today is telling of an outdated company oblivious to the scale and pace of the energy transition happening around it. Going back to 2020, 50% of shareholders voted for Woodside to implement a Scope 3 emissions reduction target and make a Paris-aligned capex commitment. Since then, we’ve seen:

  • 2021: 19% of shareholders vote for Woodside to pursue an oil and gas wind-down strategy
  • 2022: 49% of shareholders vote against Woodside’s climate transition plan
  • 2023: 35% of shareholders vote against the re-election of company director Ian Macfarlane
  • 2024: 58% of shareholders vote against Woodside’s climate plan and 17% vote against the re-election of Chair Richard Goyder

Despite several world record-breaking protest votes from shareholders in recent years, Woodside has not materially changed its inadequate climate transition plan since 2020. Instead, Woodside continues to exhibit unrivalled arrogance by ignoring genuine shareholder concerns about the massive risks posed by its failure to align with a credible emissions reduction pathway.

Failing to deliver a credible transition strategy as emissions are projected to increase

As the global energy transition accelerates, Woodside stands resolutely behind its misguided oil and gas growth strategy, relying on unrealistic liquefied natural gas (LNG) demand scenarios in order to justify its climate-wrecking ways.

In the face of an impending global LNG supply glut, Woodside continues to use forecasts that show an increase in LNG demand of 53% by 2033. Yet the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Stated Policies (STEPS) scenario – which is a business as usual scenario based on existing government policies – forecasts LNG demand to be 27% lower than the forecast Woodside relies on.

The IEA’s Net Zero Emissions (NZE) scenario – designed to be the most cost-effective and technically-feasible pathway to holding global warming below 1.5°C – forecasts LNG demand to be 47% lower than Woodside’s modelling.

Climate Scientist Bill Hare scrutinises Woodside’s use of climate scenarios and questions the company’s understanding of the Paris Agreement.

The only way that Woodside’s forecast can be true is if currently enacted government policies are repealed. Woodside is therefore gambling shareholder capital on the notion that governments around the world will scrap policies that have already been implemented, an absurd pipe dream as climate action around the world only gets more ambitious.

When climate wreckers like Woodside use unrealistic LNG demand scenarios to justify their misguided fossil fuel expansion plans, that inevitably means an increase in emissions. Even after factoring in the meagre emissions reduction commitments Woodside has been parading around in front of investors, the company’s overall emissions are projected to increase 18% by 2028 (from 2022 levels).

Woodside’s projected Scope 3 emissions vs abatement target

It also appears Woodside does not understand what ‘Paris-aligned’ means. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been abundantly clear that emissions from existing fossil fuel infrastructure will be enough to take us past the critical 1.5°C warming threshold, let alone emissions from new or expanded fossil fuel projects. Despite this, Woodside continues to claim that increasing gas use is ‘Paris-aligned’ by relying on scenarios that would require an impossible upscaling of global carbon capture and storage (CCS) capacity.

Nice try, Woodside.

When questioned about why the company believes its strategy is ‘Paris-aligned,’ Chair Richard Goyder stood behind the company’s greenwash, refusing to adequately engage with Market Forces CEO Will van de Pol and instead referred back to the Chair’s recent plea for support to shareholders.

Market Forces CEO Will van de Pol questions Woodside Chair Richard Goyder about the company’s claim that Woodside’s strategy is ‘Paris-aligned.’