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Investors rebuff 'Big Oil' climate shareholder resolutions

U.S. investors at leading energy firms rejected a climate activist group's push to align emission targets with the Paris climate pact despite the group's success in Europe.

Big U.S. investors at the top five western oil firms' shareholder meetings this year rebuffed an activist group's resolutions to align their emission targets with the Paris climate pact, in contrast to some European peers, voting data showed.

Netherlands-based activist group Follow This was created first to target Shell and subsequently expanded to file climate resolutions at other western majors including BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and TotalEnergies.

According to the data published by it and investors, giant U.S. investors BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street and JPMorgan all voted against the Follow This resolutions this year.

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The resolutions asked the groups to align their 2030 end-use emissions targets with the Paris goal of keeping warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, which scientists say will mean cutting greenhouse gas emissions by around 43% from 2019 levels.

France's Amundi and Britain's HSBC voted in favour of the activist group at all five energy companies, while Switzerland's UBS voted in favour of its resolution for all apart from BP.

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Germany's Allianz supported Follow This at Chevron's and Exxon's meetings.

"Investors hold the key to tackling the climate crisis with their shareholder voting power at Big Oil. Amundi, Allianz, and UBS use their voting power to mitigate the climate crisis," said Follow This founder Mark van Baal.

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In 2022, Follow This resolutions received between 15% and 33% of the votes at the big five excluding TotalEnergies, where it did not file a resolution that year. This year, it received between 10% and 30% support at the five firms.

Britain's Legal & General IM voted against Follow This across the board this year, after supporting the activist resolution for Chevron and Exxon at last year's shareholder gatherings.

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This mirrors big shareholder proxy voting firm Glass Lewis and ISS, which changed some of their recommendations for this year to the detriment of Follow This, including withdrawing support for the activist resolution at Chevron.

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