At Shell’s special shareholder’s meeting, January 26th 2016, by Mark van Baal
Mr. chairman, mr. Van Beurden,
In 2009 the German utility RWE bought the Dutch utility Essent for around 10 billion euros. At the same time wind turbines and solar panels were filling the German landscape. A third of the electricity in Germany is renewable now. However, in a country moving to renewable electricity, RWE decided to buy coal fired electricity plants. Today 5 billion of that deal is lost. RWE is in dire straits because they could not imagine an electricity supply without coal.
We are afraid that you make the same mistake today. You can not image a world without fossil fuels while you live in a world that asks for renewable energy. We are afraid of Shell being the next RWE, or the next Kodak.
Who thinks that the BG deal is not a good deal because of the oil price today, misses the point. The elephant in the room is that fact that Shell buys potential stranded assets.
You already have potential stranded assets on your balance sheets. If we want to limit climate change to 2 degrees Celsius we have to keep 2/3 of your reserves in the ground according to the British think tank Carbon Tracker.
With the BG Group you buy more potential stranded assets, including billions of barrels that is still under the ocean and very expensive to produce (for example subsalt Brazilian oil reserves).
So will encourage you to think again. Shell has proven to have the courage to change course, for example in stopping the exploration of oil and gas in the arctic. We hope you have that courage again.
We have voted against this deal, we think there is a much better way to spend 50 billion: in renewable energy.
But we haven’t lost faith. We also want to tell you what Follow This and more and more pension funds encourage you to do. Pension funds are under increasing pressure to divest in fossil fuels and you can help them.
We want you to become a renewable energy company.
We ask Shell to continue to take the profits from its existing oil and gas fields (enjoy the profit from fossil while you have it) but please invest these profits (after paying dividend) in renewable energy instead of more fossil fuels.
Given our vision that Shell is one of the most innovative companies in the oil and gas industry (you had the guts to build a GTL plant in Qatar and a FLNG ship now) we are convinced Shell is the right oil major to change course.
We also think it’s time because:
(1) fossil fuels are under increasing pressure (remember Paris, look at the fossil free movements)
(2) the oil price seems low today, but fossil fuels are getting more and more expensive to get oil and gas out of the earth
(3) renewable energy is getting cheaper (as engineers you know technology gets cheaper by nature)
Imagine what happens to the brand value of a company with a clear zero-emission goal. Today gasoline is a commodity. We are convinced that setting a zero-emission goal will distinguish Shell from its competitors, because customers will know that the profits from Shell fossil fuels will be invested in renewables.
In addition to this: you will lower your risk profile. A change of course will diversify your business and decrease your dependence on the oil price.
Mr. Holliday has written a book: The subtitle is: ‘the business case for sustainable development’. Together with you we believe there’s a business case for sustainable energy. The title of the book is: ‘Walking The Talk’. We hope you will walk the talk.
Image that Shell put his brains and billions behind renewables. This would not only be better for the world, but also better for the future of Shell.
You have our support. We want to be proud of Shell.
Our question is: how many shareholder support do you need to change course?
Follow This is a movement of green shareholders in Shell. We represent 1.000 shareholders with 5 million euros in shares. These are all shareholders who believe Shell can change the world. We believe that Shell can take the lead in creating a world that runs on renewables instead of fossil fuels.