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BP shareholder vote shows increased support for tougher climate targets

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By Ron Bousso

LONDON (Reuters) -A resolution from a climate activist group demanding BP set tougher emission reduction targets was supported by 20.6% of shareholder votes on Wednesday, pointing to growing investor pressure.

Although the level of support at the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) meant the resolution filed by Dutch group Follow This was rejected, it was significantly higher than the last climate resolution it filed at BP’s 2019 AGM, when it won 8.4% support.

The activist group had called on BP to publish short, medium and long-term targets to reduce emissions that are consistent with the U.N.-backed 2015 Paris agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees celsius from pre-industrial levels.

The board had opposed the resolution.

Mark van Baal, the head of Follow This, told Reuters that “a fifth of shareholders want BP to go back to the drawing board and rethink their strategy.”

BP, led by CEO Bernard Looney since February 2020, last year announced plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas it produces to zero and reduce by half the carbon instensity of all products it sells by 2050.

In one of the sector’s most ambitious strategies, BP also plans to slash its oil output by 40% and boost its renewable power business by 20-fold by 2030.

BP said in a statement following the vote that it “will continue to engage with shareholders on our strategy, targets and aims so as to ensure their views are fully understood.”

The company will publish an update on its engagement with shareholders around climate within 6 months, it said.

BP Chairman Helge Lund said at the start of the AGM that “in practice the resolution would constrain BP’s ability to adjust its strategy in future as the energy transition unfolds.”

(Reporting by Ron Bousso. Editing by Jane Merriman and Elaine Hardcastle)

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