Ethics for USS are working with others to support Resolution 21 at the Shell AGM in May. The letter below – signed by 405 USS members – many of them senior academics – from 35 UK institutions has been sent to USS on May 10th. We will publish their response when received.
We call upon USS to vote for Shareholder Resolution 21 at the Shell AGM on May 19th 2020. Resolution 21, relating to climate change, can be read in full on page 6 of Shell’s AGM notice.
Currently USS has approximately £500 million invested in Shell and therefore the views of USS members and USS institutions deserve careful consideration with regard to the USS vote. In 2017, 2018 and 2019 USS voted against similar climate change proposals.
Resolution 21 calls on Shell to set and publish targets aligned with the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement to limit global warming to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; that these targets need to cover the emissions of the company’s operations and the use of its energy products (Scope 1, 2 and 3); that targets be short, medium and long term and reviewed regularly in accordance with the best available science. The Resolution requests that targets are based on quantitative metrics such as greenhouse gas intensity or similar metrics and that annual reporting includes information about plans and progress to achieve these targets.
Shell Directors want shareholders to vote against Resolution 21 describing it, on page 7 of Shell’s AGM notice, as ‘unnecessary and potentially counter- productive to Shell’s efforts to support society in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.’ The Directors claim that their current and planned actions are a sufficient response to the threat of climate change. We note that Shell is continuing to drill for gas and oil around the world and continuing to look for new reserves of fossil fuels. In addition Shell is failing to meet its own green targets.
The IPCC is clear. ‘The annual increase in global energy use is greater than the increase in renewable energy, meaning that fossil fuel use continues to grow. This growth needs to halt immediately’. Shell’s current approach is accelerating global climate change.
Failure to meet the Paris Climate Agreements will result in social and economic disruption that will have a severe negative impact on pension funds. It is therefore the fiduciary duty of USS and its trustees to support this important motion at the AGM. In addition over half of UK universities have divested from Fossil Fuels, with increasing numbers declaring climate emergencies. It is clearly in members’ interests for USS to vote in support of Resolution 21. We ask USS to inform Paul Kinnersley, retired USS member and co-ordinator of Ethics for USS, of USS’s voting intentions and rationale by May 15th. Paul wrote on this matter to USS Head of Corporate Affairs on February 27th but has yet to receive a response.