The environmental group Greenpeace took on one of the world’s largest oil companies yesterday, for its lack of support for renewable energy projects.
LONDON, England, UK, 2001-04-20 <SolarAccess.com> BP Amoco PLC faced strong criticism at its annual general meeting in London for its slow take-up of renewable energy projects. ‘SANE BP’ is a group of supporters from Greenpeace and the U.S. Public Research Interest Group, as well as individual investors, that has lobbied BP investors to support Resolution 18 which encouraged the oil company to go ‘beyond petroleum’ and to slowly phase out the production of fossil fuels in response to climate change. The umbrella group was formed in 1999, and has taken an active part in BP’s annual meeting for the past three years. Last year, with the Trillium Asset Management Corporation, it put forward a resolution calling on the directors to cancel Northstar, the first offshore oil development in the Arctic Ocean. That resolution received the support of 13.5 percent of the shareholder votes, which it claims was an unprecedented result for a resolution of its kind. Under the company’s bylaws, at least 100 members of Greenpeace had to purchase at least £100 of shares in the company in order to place the special resolution on the meeting agenda. “As BP Amoco shareholders we support the aim of BP Amoco to play a leading role in meeting the world’s energy needs without damaging the environment and also support the Company’s stated intent to go ‘beyond petroleum’,” it read. “We feel, however, that the Company has not yet explained to the satisfaction of its shareholders how it intends to achieve these objectives.” BP Amoco is one of the five largest privately owned oil producers in the world, and the resolution asked company directors to publish a report outlining how BP will make the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. A resolution similar to last year’s motion on renewables was rejected on a legal technicality. “We can only assume that BP did not take us seriously last year until the vote was counted,” says Stephanie Tunmore of Greenpeace. “This year the company has applied the strictest interpretation of one of the most technical points of law, in an attempt to slam the shutters on legitimate debate.” “The Directors are hereby directed to prepare, publish and circulate to shareholders a report by the end of 2001 setting out a strategy going ‘beyond petroleum’ for reducing and eventually phasing out the production and sale of fossil fuels in response to climate change,” says the resolution. “The report shall include quantified targets and clear timescales for … investment in renewable energy as a proportion of overall group investment.” “If the ever-growing energy needs of the world are to be met for the foreseeable future, there is no economical or practical alternative to oil and natural gas,” the oil company explained in its recommendation that shareholders reject the resolution. “To insist on phasing out carbon-based fuels would be commercially irresponsible, economically disastrous and morally indefensible.” “While we agree with the need to address many of the issues raised in the resolution, the demand that we cease to be an oil and gas producer within the foreseeable future is not in the interests of shareholders, stakeholders or society as a whole,” it continues. “While the strategic direction is clear, the pace at which commercially viable alternative energy sources will emerge is uncertain, with a number of factors, such as costs, public policies and consumer preferences, all playing a part.” “The often-quoted scenario that envisages about half of world energy demand being met by non-fossil fuels by 2050 may be a reasonable one, although there is little hard data about how such an outcome will emerge, and what detailed information does exist is insufficient to set long-term quantifiable targets for specific technologies,” it concludes. “In the absence of any commercially viable alternative and recognising the need to supply the world for the foreseeable future with oil and natural gas, BP will work to meet the world demand for hydrocarbons through responsible development while continuing to develop renewable energy sources for the future.”