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Shell climate ambition snubbed by seven out of eight largest Dutch insurance firms

Seven out of eight of the Netherland’s largest insurance companies snubbed Shell’s climate ambition by abstaining or voting with a fringe group’s resolution.

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Only one insurer, Allianz, voted against the resolution put forward by shareholder activist group, Follow This, who are calling for Shell to align its targets with the Paris Climate Agreement at its most recent AGM.

The three insurers based in the Netherland’s who voted for the resolution, Vivat, NN and Aegon, represent more than £850 million in investment.

APG, Achmea IM and Achmea Own abstained from the vote, Allianz rejected the resolution, while ASR closed Shell of investments for sustainability reasons.

As part of its Sky scenario outlined in March, Shell said it believes it is forging a “technologically, industrially, and economically possible route forward, consistent with limiting the global average temperature rise to well below 2°C from pre-industrial levels”.

Follow This insist that Shell “is going to have to establish concrete climate targets” in line with the resolution proposed at the 22 May AGM.

A Shell spokesman said: “We believe the vote is a clear and strong display of confidence in Shell’s wide-ranging and progressive approach to leading though the energy transition.  It demonstrates not only support for our industry-leading strategy, but also clear trust in the ability of Shell’s management to implement it.

“The transition towards a net-zero emissions energy system and a world where temperature increases are limited to less than 2C will unfold over several decades and will require concerted action by many, including Shell.  We recognise there are many voices in the energy transition debate and we will continue to engage constructively as we implement our approach.  But we must also recognise that the time for action is now … Shell is committed to playing its part and, with the clear and ongoing support of our shareholders, we will continue to take sensible steps to help tackle climate change and ensure we thrive through the energy transition.”

The resolution put forward by Follow This received an overall shareholder voting percentage of 5.5%, with 7% of voters abstaining.

The shareholder activist group claim to have the support of 4,000 private shareholders.

The eight insurance companies involved in the vote represent more than £1.8 billion in Shell investment.

Founder of Follow This and Shell shareholder Mark Van Baal: “This is quite painful for Shell, especially since they so explicitly and actively asked for shareholder support. We hope that Shell are taking this encouragement by these important shareholders seriously and that they turn their climate ambition into climate targets that actually connect with the Paris climate accord. Stopping climate change is of great financial importance to insurers. This is the reason that they support this climate resolution.

“Insurers are right to be concerned about the costs of climate change. The growing cost of damages due to extreme weather is already apparent, and this is just the beginning. My own family’s automobile insurance premiums went up last month, literally because of more damage from hail as a result of climate change.”

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