Australia’s Woodside to let shareholders vote on climate change report in 2022

FILE PHOTO: The logo for Woodside Petroleum, Australia’s top independent oil and gas company, adorns a promotional poster on display at a briefing for investors in Sydney, Australia, May 23, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray

(Reuters) – Australia’s biggest independent gas producer Woodside Petroleum Ltd would allow shareholders cast a non-binding, advisory vote on its climate reporting at its annual general meeting next year, the company said on Friday.

The company, however, opposed a change to its constitution for climate-related disclosures and asked shareholders to vote against the resolution in the April 15 meeting.

It said there are many avenues for shareholders to express their views without changing its constitution and promised to engage with them throughout the year regarding climate reporting ahead of the 2022 vote.

Energy companies have been under pressure to reduce emissions and increase transparency on their response to climate change amid calls for a swift shift towards clean energy.

Earlier this week, peer Santos Ltd had decided to allow shareholders to cast an advisory vote in 2022. Shareholders had last month urged both companies to publish an annual climate report and form a strategy to cut emissions.

Woodside said on Friday its reports were in line with the suggestions made by the task force on climate-related financial disclosures, a 31-member organisation that provides recommendations on climate change-related risks.

In a separate statement, it said a shareholder group that sought changes to its constitution to include publishing an annual climate report from 2022 and putting it to vote has withdrawn the resolution.

The resolution led by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), which holds about 0.01% of the company’s shares, would not be put to vote on April 15, Woodside said.

The ACCR said it withdrew the resolution after Woodside committed for a shareholder vote at the 2022 AGM, but said it would continue to engage with the company about a recurring annual vote beyond next year.

“While the company hasn’t committed to a recurring vote beyond 2022, it is our understanding that many investors have conveyed that expectation to the company and we expect that Woodside will commit to doing so in the year ahead,” ACCR said.