Shell SHEL-N shareholders overwhelmingly supported the energy giant’s strategy at a raucous annual general meeting disrupted by climate activists who tried to storm the stage.
Tuesday’s meeting highlighted the growing tension Shell and its peers face as they try to navigate growing investor pressure to accelerate their shift away from oil and gas while other shareholders focus on profit after record earnings last year.
Shell’s climate strategy resolution won 80 per cent support from voting shareholders, according to preliminary results, in line with last year.
A shareholder resolution filed by activist group Follow This, calling on Shell to set more ambitious targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, won support from a fifth of the voters, also unchanged from a similar resolution last year.
The activist resolution echoes a Dutch court ruling demanding that Shell ramps up its climate targets. Shell has launched an appeal against the ruling.
“The silent majority is being very clear with us as to their expectations ... (to) find a balanced transition,” Chief Executive Wael Sawan told reporters after the meeting.
Shell aims to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 and has set several short and medium-term emission targets but has so far rejected calls to set 2030 goals to reduce absolute emissions.
Sawan, who has signalled that Shell is reviewing plans to reduce oil output, is set to announce a strategy update next month.
The meeting started after an hour’s delay caused by repeated disruptions by protestors who were carried out by dozens of security staff.
Security staff formed a human chain on stage to shield Sawan, Chairman Andrew Mackenzie and company directors after a group of protestors attempted to storm the stage.
“Go to hell, Shell, and don’t you come back no more,” a choir of about a dozen protesters sang as they called for Shell to stop producing fossil fuels, with Sawan and Mackenzie watching.
“We’ve heard this point many times now,” Mackenzie told the protesters. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have this debate rather than saying the same thing over and over again.”
He added that Shell’s investment in lower-carbon solutions that earn smaller returns than oil and gas projects shows it is taking climate change seriously.
Shell, which reported a record $40-billion profit last year, and other major hydrocarbon producers argue that they have to help cover ever-increasing demand for oil and gas.
A company spokesperson said the protestors were “not interested in constructive engagement.”
Scientists say the world needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 43 per cent from 2019 levels by 2030 to stand a chance of meeting the Paris Agreement’s goal of keeping warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.