BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, has backed a shareholder resolution calling on oil giant BP for “faster climate action” despite the energy company's board opposition, according to reports in Reuters.
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The announcement comes in the wake of a court in the Netherlands instructing Shell to cut its carbon emissions far more aggressively than currently planned, while fellow supermajors ExxonMobil and Chevron also found themselves under heavy pressure over their under-ambitious decarbonisation plans.
In a vote bulleting BlackRock said: "While recognising the company's efforts to date and direction of travel, supporting the resolution signals our desire to see the company accelerate its efforts on climate risk management.”
The investment house, which holds a 6.8% stake in BP, voted at the oil company’s annual general meeting earlier this month – spurred by activist group Follow This – to galvanise greater efforts at the operator to slash greenhouse gas emissions.
BP last August unveiled a bold new strategy to transform the 110-year-old company into an “integrated energy company”, including a pledge to boost spending on low-carbon energy tenfold to $5bn a year by 2030.
Reuters reported that Blackrock noted, however, that it voted in favour of French operator Total’s energy transition strategy at the company’s AGM last week, which won over 90% of shareholder support.
With some $9trn in assets on its books, BlackRock has emerged as a key target for campaigners and investors looking to ratchet up pressure on the world's biggest oil companies to raise targets in their plans to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
BlackRock said it supports BP's climate strategy insofar as it met “expectations that companies have clear policies and action plans to manage climate risk and provides a roadmap towards the company’s stated climate ambitions and targets”.
But that it also supported the Follow This resolution "because we see it as a means to reiterate our expectation that BP progressively refine its GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions reduction targets”, Reuters reported.
BP declined to comment on BlackRock's vote, according to the wire service, saying: "We prefer the annual 'say on climate' advisory vote offered by management as a mechanism for shareholders to give feedback on the company’s climate strategy.”