AGL Energy AGM: Australian investors lagging on pollution

AGL Energy AGM: Australian investors lagging on pollution

MEDIA COMMENT
19 September 2019

An ordinary shareholder resolution filed by ACCR at AGL Energy, seeking disclosure of the cost of installing modern pollution controls at AGL’s Bayswater and Loy Yang A coal-fired power stations, garnered 10.85% support from shareholders at AGL’s AGM today.

In contrast, in May this year, a very similar resolution at Duke Energy in the United States was supported by 41% of shareholders, with the support of influential proxy adviser ISS.

Dan Gocher, Director of Climate and Environment at ACCR, said today:

“A 2018 report by Dr Ben Ewald estimated that the five coal-fired power stations in NSW cause 279 early deaths annually. A 2019 report commissioned by the Australian Energy Council estimated that the five coal-fired power stations in NSW cause 98 early deaths annually. Whatever the number, research, including research paid for by AGL, confirms that coal-fired power stations kill people.

“Despite this, through its membership of the Australian Energy Council, AGL has lobbied the National Environment Protection Council and the Victorian Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure that emission limits are not strengthened.

“To date, AGL has not disclosed any assessment of the risk of public health impacts from its coal-fired power stations.

“Coal-fired power stations are not only the primary contributor to global warming, but they are a constant source of significant amounts of air and coal ash pollution. This vote suggests that the majority of investors are disinterested in understanding the serious legal, reputational and public health risks that attach to coal-fired power operations.

“The response by AGL Chair Graeme Hunt to a question from ACCR about the board’s support for the use of Kyoto carryover credits – as advocated by the Business Council of Australia – suggests that the company supports the BCA’s position. Despite Brett Redman’s position on the BCA’s energy and climate change committee, Mr Hunt implied that the BCA’s lobbying on climate policy was not of great concern to the company.”


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