Media release

Systemic failings on climate governance: ACCR files members’ statement against re-election of Woodside Chair, Richard Goyder

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility​ (ACCR) has filed a members’ statement opposing the re-election of Woodside Energy Group Ltd Chair Richard Goyder at the company’s upcoming annual general meeting (AGM) on 24 April 2024.

The statement says a vote against Goyder is warranted because the Woodside board has been persistently unresponsive to shareholder concerns on climate risk management and is pursuing a growth strategy that is not in shareholders’ interests.

Woodside has faced the following major votes on climate governance and strategy at its recent AGMs:

  • 2020 - 50% vote in favour of an ACCR resolution seeking that the company set Paris-aligned Scope 1, 2 and 3 targets, and to adjust capital allocation and remuneration accordingly.
  • 2022 - 49% vote against Woodside’s Climate Plan under the Say on Climate mechanism, the lowest level of support for a climate plan since the inception of Say on Climate.
  • 2023 - a record-breaking 35% vote against director Ian Macfarlane over climate governance concerns.

Despite these clear signals from investors, Woodside’s strategy has not materially changed since the 2023 AGM and the company continues to ignore investor concerns on climate governance.

Brynn O’Brien, Executive Director at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) said:

“Over the last four years the Woodside board, chaired by Richard Goyder, has failed to respond to reasonable shareholder concerns on climate risk management. Relatedly, the company’s oil and gas growth strategy, which is incompatible with credible and current safe climate models, is not in shareholders’ interests.

“After numerous years of engagement and their concerns being ignored, investors have no choice but to question the capacity and leadership of the Woodside board.

“As Chair, Richard Goyder carries ultimate responsibility for the company’s systemic failings on climate governance and therefore it is Goyder who investors should hold to account.

“Woodside’s resistance to investor feedback is astonishing. Investors dished out the world’s largest vote against a company climate plan in 2022, a global record which is still unsurpassed. This was followed by a record-breaking vote against an incumbent director at last year’s AGM. Despite this, Woodside this week put forward a climate plan with little more than a few tweaks and a change of tone.

“Woodside’s 5 MtCO2-e pa scope 3 “abatement target” is not a new target, it is just restating the existing US$5billion new energy capex target with a different metric. This “target”, which represents just 7% of Woodside’s 2023 Scope 3 emissions, will not pass muster with investors who’ve clearly signalled they expect the company to meaningfully address scope 3 emissions.

“Given the company is progressing 475Mt of new scope 3 emissions from Browse, Sunrise and Calypso, it’s a blatantly unserious offering.

“Woodside openly acknowledged at the 2023 Investor Briefing Day that its offsets portfolio and nascent CCS projects are tools to support growth. It’s clear these plans are about facilitating emissions production, rather than emissions reduction.

“88% of Woodside’s greenfield capex will be allocated to oil and gas expansion. As yet, Woodside has not sanctioned a significant green energy project.

“The Goyder-led board has resisted change in the wake of each major shareholder vote since 2020. Investors have had enough. This style of leadership is ineffective in transitioning Woodside into a thriving, modern energy company.”

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