Woodside to face investor pressure on expansion plans, lobbying and propaganda

Woodside to face investor pressure on expansion plans, lobbying and propaganda

MEDIA COMMENT
27 February 2020

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) has lodged four shareholder resolutions to be heard at the upcoming AGM of ASX-listed oil and gas company Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX:WPL) on 30 April 2020 in Perth.

Woodside announced via an ASX release this afternoon that it has received ACCR’s resolutions, but as Santos did earlier this month, Woodside said it was “assessing the validity of the requisitioned resolutions”. This is a departure from the usual practice of disclosing validity at the time of acknowledgement of receipt.

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

“Woodside plans to nearly double oil and gas production by 2028. If taken to production, the Burrup Hub development would become Australia’s largest carbon polluting project. Woodside’s plans are simply incompatible with a safe climate, and, if realised, may prevent Australia from meeting its commitments under the Paris Agreement.

“Woodside’s industry associations, including the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) and the Business Council of Australia (BCA), were named among the world’s most obstructive lobbyists on climate policy, according to a recent report by UK-based think tank InfluenceMap. APPEA and the BCA support the use of Kyoto carryover credits, a position which the Australian government used to effectively disrupt global climate talks in Madrid last year. Woodside has failed to grapple with the destructive role its industry associations have had on climate policy for more than two decades.

“Woodside launders its corporate image through some of the most egregious types of “reputation advertising”, including campaigns directed at young people and children. Woodside routinely advertises gas as a “clean” fuel source, as does APPEA through various online and social media accounts. BP recently committed to stopping corporate “reputation advertising”, and will redirect those funds to promoting climate action. Woodside’s expenditure on gas propaganda is not in the best interests of shareholders.

Background

Resolution 1 is a special resolution, required under Australian law to facilitate the filing of advisory resolutions on environmental and social issues. 

Resolution 2 asks the company to set and disclose emissions reduction targets across its operations (scope 1 and 2) and the use of its products (scope 3), disclose how its exploration and capital expenditure is aligned with those targets, and to link the company’s remuneration structure with those targets. Similar resolutions have been faced by BP, Equinor, Origin Energy and Royal Dutch Shell. Santos will face an identical resolution at its 3 April AGM.

Resolution 3 requests a review of the company’s direct and indirect lobbying. Similar resolutions have been faced by BHP Group, Origin Energy and Rio Tinto. Santos will face an identical resolution at its 3 April AGM.

Resolution 4 requests a review of the company’s corporate and sector “reputation advertising”. BP recently committed to stop funding such campaigns.