Vanguard challenged to back shareholder resolutions demanding oil companies disclose climate change risks to their business strategy

12th May 2016


Campaign group Share Action has written to Vanguard, one of the world’s largest passive fund managers, challenging it to vote in favour of resolutions which would require two major oil firms to disclose their strategies for climate change.

The resolutions, supported by many institutional shareholder groups including the church commissioners of the Church of England, would require the firms to outline the risks to their business portfolio and strategy were governments to successfully enforce measures to restrict global temperatures to 2 degrees as  agreed recently in Paris.

In an open letter to Vanguard Chief Executive Bill McNabb, Share Action chief executive Catherine Howarth calls on the company to undertake a “robust and stretching form of stewardship over this sector [oil and gas] on behalf of those who entrust your firm with their assets.”

She was responding to recent comments made by Mr McNabb criticising the fossil fuel divestment movement and advocating instead a shareholder engagement approach. “You are not sending a message to the company. You are better remaining an owner and being able to engage with the company,” Mr McNabb said.

Howarth’s letter says that Vanguard’s track record of voting in favour of shareholder resolutions addressing the economic risks of climate change has so far been “negligible.” She says the ExxonMobil and Chevron AGMs on 25th May as “a litmus test” for Vanguard’s approach to proxy voting.



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