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Big Oil Backs Shareowner Initiative on Reducing Carbon Emissions?
By Michael Schweibinz

The role of supermajor oil companies in climate change is beginning to shift. British Petroleum (BP) has announced that it will advise investors to back a shareholder initiative meant to cut back on carbon emissions. This news came a week after another large oil company, Royal Dutch Shell, agreed to support the same shareholder resolution.

Helen Wildsmith, Head of Ethical and Responsible Investments for CCLA Investment Management in London (where BP is based), praises the steps taken by BP and Shell. She claims that, “BP’s response indicates that supportive but stretching shareholder resolutions can play a positive stewardship role.” First Affirmative agrees. The idea that shareholder’s opinions matter to large corporations is a theme that could pay big dividends for companies by garnering support from responsible investors and the consuming public.

This view is echoed by Edward Mason, Head of Responsible Investment for the Church Commissioners for England, stating: “The positive way in which BP and Shell have responded to our shareholder resolutions is completely unprecedented. This represents a step change in engagement between institutional shareholders and the oil and gas industry on the strategic challenge that climate change poses to the industry.”

CCLA (which controls 1.5 billion pounds of the Church of England’s investment portfolios) is looking to keep the ball rolling with their “Aiming for A” initiative, a coalition of investors pushing for large corporations to take the necessary steps to propel themselves into the top bracket of rankings by the Carbon Disclosure Project. If successful, they could make big waves not only for the environment, but also investment practices worldwide. To show that even the biggest of oil companies realize the importance of environmental health and are willing to recognize and adjust behaviors based on the wishes of their shareholder’s gives responsible investors much more power in shaping the future of energy. Stay tuned to see how BP’s shareholders will vote in regards to “Aiming for A” on April 16th.

At First Affirmative, we understand that the ways we save, spend, and invest can dramatically influence both the fabric and consciousness of society. We believe that in addition to the benefits of ownership, investors bear responsibility for the impact our money has in the world. Are you making conscious decisions about the impact of your consumer purchase and investment decisions?


Mention of specific companies or securities should not be considered an endorsement or a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Posted: March 2, 2015