Dear Mr. Chairman, Mr. van Beurden, and board members,
Thank you for your extensive and detailed response to our shareholder resolution, with which you underline the importance of this issue. We thank the team of the secretary of the board for their support in tabling the resolution.
It is good to see you again. The question today is: Are we the last generation of shareholders in Shell? Or will we, the shareholders, give Shell enough support to change course, to make sure that there will be a next generation of shareholders in Shell.
The Paris Climate Agreement will have a huge influence on the future of all companies, in particular energy companies. Therefore, the Resolution states:
“Shareholders support Shell to take leadership in the energy transition to a net-zero-emission energy system, and therefore request Shell to set targets that are aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement.”
In short: the resolution simply asks Shell to commit to the Paris Climate Agreement.
It is up to the management of Shell to set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and to develop activities to attain these targets. The resolution is agnostic with respect to business models and technology.
The support of VEB, the Dutch association of private and institutional investors, shows that participating in the energy transition is much more than a legal or moral obligation; it is simply the best strategy for long-term shareholder value.
Therefore we hoped that the board of Shell would welcome a shareholder resolution that expresses shareholder support for a long-term strategy.
But by advising its shareholders to vote against Resolution #21, Shell has chosen not to commit to the Paris Climate Agreement yet.
As of May 2017, 195 countries have signed the Paris Climate Agreement, but Shell, bigger then half of these 195 countries, does not want to set targets that are in line with this agreement to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius.
We have not lost faith in Shell. In its response Shell writes: “We believe we are unique in having a broader set of business options than any other company in our sector.” We fully agree.
This is why we started our mission two years ago at Shell’s AGM, when we said on behalf of some 100 shareholders: “Image Shell putting its brains and billions behind renewables.” Two years later we say this on behalf of more than 3,000 shareholders.
Since the AGM of 2015, Shell has taken promising steps: it stopped drilling in the Arctic, stopped exploiting oil sands, planned to build a wind farm in the North Sea, expressed support for the Paris Climate Agreement, and established a New Energies Division, the most popular division of the company, especially among young employees, some of whom have joined Follow This. Unfortunately, these investments of a few hundred million dollars are less than one per cent of total investments of 25 billion dollars.
Today we as shareholders can show Shell whether we mean business about climate change.
Of course, acting on climate change is a moral and legal obligation, but as shareholders we are convinced that changing course is first and foremost a business opportunity and a way to avoid financial risks. According to Carbon Tracker, Shell runs the risk of losing billions of dollars in stranded assets.
Today shareholders will decide whether they will support Shell in the energy transition.
The percentage of votes that the resolution will ultimately receive depends on how well informed institutional investors are and how consistent they are with their own policies.
The policy of Dutch institutional investors, for example, is to “urge companies to provide an overview of the efforts to help deliver the goals of the Paris Agreement,” as their representative Eumedion writes in its position paper.
Today shareholders that voted for resolution #21 will give Shell and the other oil majors a strong signal: we need you to change. If Shell and the oil majors do not change course, they will go bankrupt and make large parts of this planet unliveable for future generations.
In Shell’s words, we hear that you are truly concerned about climate change and you are truly motivated to be seen as a force for good. In Shell’s deeds, however, we miss three things: commitment to Paris, imagination, and sense of urgency.
We hope today that shareholders will give Shell a strong signal to commit to the Paris Climate Agreement, so Shell can be a force for good.
This is a resolution of optimism and faith. To quote the resolution: “We encourage Shell to set targets that are inspirational for society, employees, and shareholders, allowing Shell to meet increasing demand for energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
In the coming decades, the next generation will ask us: you knew there was a global problem, and you also knew the solution. What did you do about it?
Your answer could be: I was in the fortunate position to be a shareholder in Shell and I supported the company to change the world by putting its brains and billions behind the net-zero-emission energy system we have today.
Shell is a strong supporter of the Paris Climate Agreement. Now the time is right for Shell to stop acting as a supporter and start acting as a responsible major global player.
As we cast our votes, we had the opportunity to support Shell to commit to the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement. We are convinced that this is the right and only way to go for Shell in the future. We will soon know how many shareholders support Shell to take leadership in the energy transition to a net-zero-emission energy system.