Royal Dutch Shell will next month become the first fossil fuel giant to seek shareholders’ non-binding approval for its road map to cut carbon emissions from refining and distribution operations.
At its annual general meeting on 13 May webcast from The Hague, the hydrocarbon behemoth will ask investing institutions and individuals to rubber-stamp its worldwide decarb intentions, first outlined by CEO Ben van Beurden twelve months ago.
Committed to cutting out all scope one and two emissions by 2050, but leaving scope three untouched, the world’s seventh-biggest carbon polluting company has in recent years bought up enterprises in generation, retail, storage, trading and EV services, en route to realising its ambition to be the world’s biggest power provider. First Utility, sonnenbatterie, Limejump, and charging firm New Motion are among innovators now under Shell’s control.
Alerting shareholders today to their voting opportunity at the AGM, the firm repeats its Energy Transition Strategy will come before investors every three years. But none of the votes will be binding on Beurden’s board, it stresses.
Shell says today that its strategy reflects “detailed conversations with shareholders” It describes Shell’s energy transition strategy as we work towards becoming a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050, in step with society’s progress towards the goal of the UN Paris Agreement”.
“The report aims to help investors and wider society gain a better understanding of how we are addressing the risks and opportunities of the energy transition.”
But a social science study released today alleges that oil bosses’ pay continues to work against carbon-shedding stances publicly declared by Shell, BP & other legacy energy firms.
Co-authored by Dario Kenner of Sussex University, the study finds compensation packages including big share options incentivise top executives to press ahead with exploration. Both BP and Shell will continue extracting oil after their carbon neutral deadlines.
Citing 2018 pay figures, Kenner & Richard Heede of Colorado-based Climate Accountability Institute, publish data that Shell’s van Beurden was the best paid CEO of his rivals at BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil with his 2018 pay exceeding $23.1 million.
In the eight years to mid-2018, none of the quartet directed more than 2.3% of its total capital investment budget to low-carbon energy, the report claims. Their combined lobbying of US politicians and authorities in two decades to 2019 amounted to $731 million.
“When BP, Shell and others talk of net zero”, Kenner tells the Guardian newspaper today, “they are trying to stay part of the decision-making process. They want to be in charge of the transition as much as possible so they can slow it down – that is the whole point of trying to convince society to trust them”, he added.