Some of the UK's biggest pension funds yesterday voted against reappointing BP's chairman over a decision to weaken its climate plans, but the majority of shareholders backed Helge Lund.

The move at the energy giant’s AGM came after it cut back its target to reduce emissions.

BP said it valued "constructive challenge and engagement".

The original target to reduce emissions was agreed by shareholders in 2022 and included a promise to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 35% to 40% by the end of this decade.

But, in February, BP announced it was now aiming for a 20% to 30% cut, so it could produce more oil and gas and extend the life of existing fossil-fuel projects.

Chief executive Bernard Looney says this was in response to increased concerns about energy security following the invasion of Ukraine.


The five pension funds told the BBC that their vote against BP chairman Mr Lund was a protest against the company's actions.

The pension funds have £440million invested in BP, which represents less than 1% of the company's total shares. But they manage the pensions of more than a third of the UK's workers, so are an influential voice.

Mr Lund received a majority of more than 90% for re-election at the AGM.

Katharina Lindmeier, senior responsible investment manager at Nest, the government-backed pension fund, said: "Not only were we disappointed to see the company going back on the targets, but we were also really surprised not to have had any consultation."

The five pension funds - Nest, the Universities Pension Scheme, LGPS Central, Brunel Pension Partnership and Border to Coast - are concerned that the new targets put BP financially at risk because the company's fossil-fuel projects are likely to lose value as the world moves towards net-zero emissions.

As well as protest voting, there were half a dozen green activists removed from the annual meeting as they demanded the company stop drilling for fossil fuels.


Dutch environmental organisation Follow This also put forward a resolution - supported by the five pension funds - which calls for more aggressive targets on what are known as scope 3 emissions - emissions from the use of its products.

BP recommended that shareholders not support this resolution calling it "unclear", "simplistic" and "disruptive".

ISS and Glass Lewis are the world's largest investor services, and recommended to BP shareholders they advise to oppose the climate resolution.

Courteney Keatinge, senior director for ESG research at Glass Lewis, said the company does not see BP's actions to reduce its climate targets as a financial risk because the world will continue to use oil and gas past 2050.

"We are not operating under a net-zero 2050 scenario, the demand is going to be there (in 2050), people will be flying planes and heating their homes,” she said.

The resolution only garnered 16.75% of the vote, up slightly on the 14.9% the same resolution received last year.

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