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BP Resists Calls to Match Shell’s Climate Change Goals

Climate change protesters block the entrance to the British Petroleum headquarters on Sept. 1, 2009 in London. (Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Climate change protesters block the entrance to the British Petroleum headquarters on Sept. 1, 2009 in London. (Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

BP is resisting pressure from investors and activists to take more radical action on climate change.

The company has rejected demands to follow the example set by rival Shell and include emissions generated by the oil it sells in its climate targets.

Two shareholder groups used the annual meeting of BP investors on Tuesday to demand the company do more to tackle global warming, a day after climate activists staged a blockade of its London headquarters.

Greenpeace activists, who locked themselves inside heavy containers outside the building, demanded BP stops exploration for new oil and gas altogether.

“The company spends … over $15 billion a year to find more oil and gas, when study after study shows that we already have more fossil fuels than we can afford to burn and still achieve the Paris targets,” said Charlie Kronick, senior climate analyst at Greenpeace.

BP accepted a resolution drafted by Climate Action 100+, a group of 300 investors with over $33 trillion in assets under management, that calls for the company to align its business strategy with the 2015 Paris Agreement. The global accord aims to keep global warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius.

Over 99% shareholders voted Tuesday in favor of the resolution.

But executives advised investors to vote against a more radical proposition by a group called Follow This, led by Dutch shareholders who invest in oil and gas companies with the goal of changing them. It wants BP to commit to reducing all emissions, including those generated by BP’s customers.

Only 8% of investors voted for the Follow This resolution.

BP said it would cut 3.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gasses emissions from its operations by 2025. But it refused to set a reduction target for emissions from its products.

Follow This and other climate change activists say that without including emissions from products, setting such targets is of little use.

BP, like many other energy companies, argues that it can’t control indirect emissions, and it had warned investors that agreeing to the Follow This resolution would “risk significant erosion of long-term shareholder value.”

Shell is the only major energy company that has committed to cutting emissions generated by both its activities and the products it sells. It said in December it would link executive pay to these goals.

But some people are still not happy with Shell’s commitments. Its annual shareholder meeting in the Netherlands on Tuesday also drew protests from activists called Code Rood (Code Red), who called for the company to be dismantled.

Climate Action 100+ was among those who pressured Shell to take action, and it’s scored other victories in Europe, forcing Equinor and Glencore to take action.

The investor coalition has campaigned in the past for companies to take responsibility for reducing all greenhouse gas emissions related to their products. But it’s not forcing the issue at BP, at least for now. BP said in February it would tie the bonuses of 36,000 employees to greenhouse gas reduction targets.

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