E&S activism in the past 30 days

Shareholder activism among ASX200 companies has certainly ramped up last month, with a total of 16 resolutions being lodged by Market Forces and ACCR at 7 energy and resources companies. These resolutions are seeking shareholder support on the following issues: 

1. The ‘wind up’ of coal, oil and gas production assets and operations. 
Market Forces’ resolutions lodged at four major coal, oil and gas producers are a part of the “wind up” campaign, which is calling on these companies to demonstrate how they will bring an end to their current operations over time, and how they will be supporting their workers during the transition to a low-carbon economy in line with the Paris Agreement.

ACCR has also lodged one similar resolution requesting that the company align to its commitment of decarbonisation and bring forward the closure dates for its operations associated with coal.  

2. Cultural Heritage Protection
In light of the destruction of Juukan Gorge in May this year, it is unsurprising that activists have increased their pressure on mining companies to ensure that an event like this one does not happen again.

ACCR has lodged two resolutions associated with this concern. One of these calls for a review of advocacy activities undertaken by industry associations relating to economic stimulus measures in response to COVID-19, and to suspend these memberships where there is advocacy inconsistent with the Paris Agreement’s goals. The other requests an independent review of the process undertaken to obtain free, prior and informed consent from Aboriginal Native Title holders and claimants on whose lands fracking activities would be undertaken.

3. Lobbying relating to COVID-19 recovery
Along with the resolution relating to cultural heritage protection, ACCR has also lodged resolutions at two companies on lobbying relating to COVID-19 recovery. The resolutions request to immediately review the advocacy of industry associations relating to economic stimulus measures in response to COVID-19, and to suspend membership of groups if they are found to be advocating for measures inconsistent with the Paris Agreement.

So far in the first half of 2020, resolutions put forward by activists have garnered, on average, more support from shareholders than in previous years, with a number of resolutions receiving to the north of 40% support. 

The new resolutions lodged in August bring the total number of shareholder resolutions this year to 33. To put that into perspective, in 2019 and 2018 there were 32 and 20 resolutions respectively, and we are not yet in peak AGM season. With a backdrop of COVID-19, increased attention on Aboriginal cultural heritage sites, and the ever-looming threat of climate change, we expect the trend to continue where these resolutions increase in both number and shareholder support.